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Environment & Climate Change

Three Michigan universities researching the water filters in Flint

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.

The University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University have researchers looking into when Flint residents should replace their home water filters.

The point-of-use filters, which became widely installed amid the Flint water crisis, are known to be effective in removing metals like lead and other contaminants from drinking water.

The universities have been looking into the water filters since news of the water crisis became public.

“The purpose of our study here is to try to identify how residents can best use these filters to try to protect their health,” says Shawn McElmurray, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State.

McElmurray says much of the research done in Flint has been a direct response to questions from residents.

“What we’re doing here is actually in a response to community concerns that have been raised in Flint, and questions that we received while we’ve been out in the community working to try to better understand water quality,” he says.  

Nancy Love is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at U of M. She says the filters are being asked to do a lot at once.

“We're asking these filters to provide multiple barriers of protection of multiple contaminants, and it's only one unit, and they’re really not designed to provide protection from so many different contaminants for just one unit,” Love says.

Love says the filters have been known to increase the amount of bacteria in water, but she said it’s unclear whether that bacteria is harmful or not.

McElmurray says the universities' report should be published by the end of the year. 

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