Nicole’s Service Reflection

This year, the tenth grade did many labs and projects related to the chemistry behind the Flint, Michigan water crisis. We learned how the lead reacts to chlorine in the drinking water and breaks off of the pipes carrying this water. To finish the project, we learned about testing water for lead by using a chemical, sodium rhodizonate. We found that if the water tested turned pink, it was contaminated with lead higher than the EPA’s limit of 15 parts per billion. We found that some cities in the United States carry drinking water well over this limit. As part of the final project, some of the tenth grade, myself included, wrote a letter to a government official of our choosing addressing this issue and all that it affects. I wrote to the mayor of Newark, NJ addressing lead contaminated drinking water found in public schools. Behavioral and physical health effects related to the lead contamination have been found in children drinking water at these schools. Although the water fountains at the schools have been shut down, the damage has already been done. In exploring the cases throughout the United States such as in Flint and Newark and in many other cities, I discovered that this is an issue going far beyond simple mistakes or neglect to test the water. There is a strong correlation between the issue and the wealth of towns and cities it was found in. Poorer towns and cities tended to have lead contamination of water. This is partly due to the inadequate funding given to the town or city. Despite this, the government officials of many towns and cities took far too long to react to the issue and treated it as a far less important issue than it is. Many people do not know enough about the issue and the extent of its importance, myself including before I had done this project. I intend to spread this struggle to others so that they too can be educated on its importance. Hopefully government officials will eventually help the issue as much as they are able to prevent further lead contamination cases.

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