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Beyond Lead: Flint Water Strongly Tied to Legionnaire’s Disease

Corroded pipes full of nutrients for deadly Legionella bacteria; other cities at risk

The tainted water crisis in Flint, Mich., didn’t just poison children with lead; it also likely contributed to two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, according to a new study (Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2016, DOI:10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00192). When Flint switched its drinking water source in 2014 from Lake Huron to the Flint River, the corrosive river water created ideal growth conditions for deadly Legionella bacteria. The first to link pipe corrosion to risk of disease at the community scale, the study is a wake-up call to the many cities failing to address corrosion in their aging water pipes.