Expert: Flint water not 'more dangerous' than other cities

There's good news in Flint where researchers say they've seen dramatic improvements in the city's water.

Water in Flint, Michigan, continues to improve, researchers reported Friday after finding no detectable levels of lead in 57 percent of homes during another round of tests.

Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech, a scientist who revealed Flint's alarming lead levels in 2015, said the "public health crisis" is nearing an end, although he firmly urged residents to continue to use filters on kitchen faucets -- perhaps for as long as it takes to replace the old steel lines that bring water into homes.

"There's no reason to think that bathing or showering or washing hands in Flint water is any more dangerous than those activities in other cities," Edwards said.

The most recent round of tests show about 6% of homes sampled still have lead levels above the federal action level. Although some families in Flint are back to using the water as usual, researchers are still recommending the use of filters and bottled water.

"Our advice is still there that if you think bathing or showering of flint water is causing you breathing difficulties or rashes based on your first hand observations you are completely justified in not continuing," Edwards said.

Edwards also addressed new concerns over a recent spike in shigella cases - a highly-contagious bacteria spread person-to-person. Testing shows the outbreak, is due to more people not washing their hands.

"I think this was particularly acute in flint, just given the fears that people had about bathing and showering and then the false alarm about the disinfection by products and the claims that chloroform levels were outrageously high in flint when really in fact, they were completely normal," Edwards said.

With water quality continuing to improve, Flint will likely serve as a model and set new standards for water quality across the country. Researchers are still concerned over lead pipes causing contamination again - and they said it doesn't matter if it's Flint or anywhere else - it's a risk.

"We've done enough water sampling to know, corrosion control is a band aid, it's an important bandaid, but as long as those lead pipes are there, that's a hazard in front of your house," Edward said.

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