In a recent six-month study, the lead content of Flint, Michigan’s water no longer exceeds the federal limit, the state department overseeing water quality announced Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Despite the city water reaching the positive threshold, however, Flint residents are still told to use and consume filtered water. The city, last week marking the 1,000th day of no clean, pure drinking water, is still replacing thousands of lead service lines in the meantime.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether considered the good news the result of local, state, and federal partnerships to restore Flint’s water quality.

“[It’s] one of the most monitored systems in the country for lead and copper, and we remain committed to continuing work in Flint as the city recovers,” she said in a statement.

Not Out Of The Woods Yet

It’s the first positive development in a while for Flint, a once-robust manufacturing hub, mired in controversy in 2015 for the increased levels of lead detected in its water supply. Last year, government officials cleared the water for use when undergoing filtration, but the memory of the contaminated water stayed fresh in the residents’ minds and led to the forgoing of basic hygiene, including bathing and hand washing.

In the new study from July 1 to Dec. 31, lead levels were found to be at 12 parts per billion (ppb) or lower in 90 percent of samples. This is deemed substantially lower than the fed level of 15 ppb.

Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped in exposing the crisis after finding out ballooning rates of lead levels in local kids’ blood, said it’s still far from the end. Existing regulations remain “weak” and are without an assurance that the water is indeed lead-free, she warned.

Furthermore, thousands of the city’s lead pipes remain and will probably take a couple of years to be addressed, making water filter use of great importance.

Community organizer Gina Luster of the Flint Rising group echoes the general sentiment, which is of skepticism. She cited officials’ repeated assurance that their water supply is fine, amid growing proof that it is leading to a number of health issues.

“They’ve fooled us too many times,” she told the Washington Post, mourning their city potentially “suffering PTSD about water for the rest of their lives.”

One Of The Worst Water Crises In History

The Flint crisis ranks as among the worst ecological disasters to hit the country, leaving almost 100,000 people vulnerable to contaminated water for months. More than 40 percent of these are steeped in poverty, census data revealed, and thousands were under age 6 and considered most endangered by lead poisoning.

In early 2014, after previously getting its supply from Detroit, Flint shifted to getting water coming from the Flint River as a cost-saving measure. Officials, however, did not properly treat the water by means of chemical use to prevent pipe corrosion.

Rust, iron, as well as dangerous lead seeped into the public water, with residents complaining of the tap water’s color and smell and reporting different symptoms such as hair loss and skin rashes.

Lead exposure can adversely impact one’s health, with low levels enough to affect a child’s IQ and attention span and potentially cause irreversible conditions, the CDC warned.

Criminal cases are now pending against 12 former and current state and local-level officials. Among those charged were two former emergency managers appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder when the crisis exploded.

“I remain committed to helping the residents recover and restore their city,” Snyder said.

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