POISON

Michigan ‘Covered Up Lead’ in 2nd City

Emails reveal that a technician who submitted samples indicating high lead levels to Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality was told to go back and get more in an attempt to manipulate the results. In 2008, a homeowners association in Fenton, Michigan—which operates on a private water system—sought help as it struggled with dangerous lead levels. The Guardian reports Adam Rosenthal, a state environmental quality analyst, wrote in September 2008: “I just saw the results—115 ppb for lead is a bit high. Since this is an annual round of monitoring, which ends 9/30/08, there is still time to collect more samples and possibly bump this one out.” He added, “Since compliance is based on the 90th percentile, the 9th highest sample would count, 20 samples would be the 18th highest for the 90th, and so on. Otherwise we’re back to water quality parameters and lead public notice.” Rosenthal copied Mike Prysby, who was criminally charged last week for his role in the city of Flint’s lead disaster, on the exchange. Prysby and state employee Stephen Busch—who is also cc’d on the email—are both accused of endangering the public by “improperly [manipulating] the collection of water samples” and removing “test results from samples.” Marc Edwards, a lead expert and professor who helped discover the origins of the Flint water crisis, said, “It just shows that this culture of corruption and unethical, uncaring behavior predated Flint by at least six years.”