New Data May Link Flint Water System, Legionnaires' Deaths

New research is raising questions about what role the water system in Flint, MI, played in a major outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease…..Experts say the findings “suggest that Legionella thrived throughout the Flint water system, making it the real culprit in Legionnaires' deaths and illnesses in 2014 and 2015,” the report said.

The state does not agree. Since the Legionnaires’ deaths included patients at McLaren-Flint hospital, the state is focusing on the hospital, rather than the water system, as the source of the problem. The state says that "the supply water coming from the city of Flint is not contributing to the Legionella issues at McLaren [hospital] and any issues are likely internal to the hospital system,".

[A] 2016 study found Legionella bacteria levels in Flint tap water were up to 1,000 times higher than normal,” Michigan Radio reported.

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Iconic Environmental Advocate Wants Better Strategies for Controlling Legionnaires' Diesease Outbreaks

During an event in Albany last week, the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease and the Allergy & Asthma Network joined iconic environmental advocate Erin Brockovich, who warned of a public water “crisis” if state and New York City health regulators don’t re-think their strategies for dealing with the issue.

The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ presented its assessment on the “misguided” state regulations put in place after a large outbreak of the disease in the summer of 2015, mostly concentrated in the south Bronx, according to a press release.

According to the Alliance’s report, “the EPA believes that if Giardia and viruses are inactivated… legionella will also be controlled.” But that policy, they say, is “a serious weakness of the system.” Legionella bacteria grows easily in water distribution systems, typically in the biofilm on the walls of aging pipes that can be found in water systems throughout the state.

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