The Flint water crisis got the attention of researchers in Blacksburg, Virginia in late of April of last year. Resident Lee-Anne Walters contacted a Virginia Tech Professor because she suspected her family was getting sick from drinking the water.
Civil Engineering Professor Marc Edwards and a team that included graduate student Sid Roy began looking into Flint’s water, they helped bring attention to the lead contamination crisis in the city. Sid Roy, communication director for Virginia Tech's Flint Water Study will speak at Western Michigan University on Tuesday at an event sponsored by Western’s Lee Honors College.
Roy says the study grew out of the research showing elevated levels of lead in the drinking water, and the lack of action by government officials. Roy says the residents of Flint trust the Virginia Tech researchers more now than they trust the government. He says officials at the local, state and federal level have lost the trust of Flint residents.
Now is the time to give Flint residents hope, according to Roy. He says in the short term that means clean drinking water. In the long-term, Roy says investments should be made in education, nutrition and other services for families because children could face developmental issues because of lead poisoning.
Beyond Flint, Roy says safe drinking water can’t be taken for granted. He says aging water infrastructure needs to be updated. Roy says that includes millions of lead pipes in the country. He says those should be replaced.
The title of Roy’s address at Western Michigan University is Science as a Force for Public Good. He says scientists failed at their jobs for over a year, and harmed the health of Flint’s citizens. He says science should focus on the public good. Roy says because future scientists will face more moral questions, ethics should be a major part of science education.