FLINT, Mich., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Since officials in the Flint, Mich., switched the city's water source from Detroit to the Flint River in early 2014, complaints about the smell of the water and growing reports of high levels of lead in children have piled up.
While Governor Rick Snyder created and executed a plan to switch the city back to Detroit's water system in October, the damage may already have been done as many children already are known to have been affected by the polluted water.
Lead toxicity is dangerous for children because it can interfere with the development of the brain and nervous system, and carries other health risks for many organs and systems, some of which may not be apparent for years after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency on Dec. 14 requesting federal support for what she deemed a "manmade disaster," though residents had recently filed lawsuit alleging the city is at fault.
The lawsuit was filed in November on behalf of "tens of thousands of residents" alleging the city harmed residents as it sought a cheaper water source. The suit claims city officials knew the water was toxic, the Washington Post reported.
"For more than 18 months, state and local government officials ignored irrefutable evidence that the water pumped from the Flint River exposed [residents] to extreme toxicity," the lawsuit alleges. "The deliberately false denials about the safety of the Flint River water was as deadly as it was arrogant."
The city switched its water source from the Detroit system in April 2014 as a temporary solution while a pipeline is completed to bring water from Lake Huron's Karegnondi Water Authority.
Complaints about the water began immediately, as did strange health effects, which were shown in a study conducted by the Hurley Medical Center.