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New Flint water testing shows lead levels at some homes too high for filters to handle

EPA urges Flint residents to have water tested

FLINT, Mich. – New testing from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows lead levels in tap water at some Flint homes are too high for filters to handle.

The filters are rated to handle 150 parts per billion. Health officials said that of the 4,000 water samples tested, 26 homes have tested above 150 parts per billion, which is already 10 times the federal limit. The federal alert level is 15 parts per billion.

"I want to stress that this does not mean we think there is a problem with the filters," said Dr. Nicole Lurie of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "In fact, everything we know tells us they are performing well.

Researchers from the federal government and from the state are going back to the affected homes to try and figure out why levels there are so high.

Residents are urged to have the water from their tap tested.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement:

"It is essential that all Flint residents have the water in their homes tested as soon as possible. Please make it a priority for your family and encourage your friends and neighbors to obtain testing kits as well. The kits are available free of charge at the water resource sites within Flint fire stations."

The EPA released Saturday preliminary water quality data about chlorine levels in Flint's drinking water, along with a map of sampling results in the city, which can be viewed here.

"The current data show estimated concentrations of chlorine present in over 30 locations throughout the city, including private homes, churches, and community centers," the EPA said in a statement. "Chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water systems and prevent the growth of viruses and bacteria, such as E. coli. At appropriate levels, the presence of chlorine in drinking water systems is normal."

More information about chlorine and health can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

The EPA said NSF-International certified lead-removal filters are being distributed in Flint by the state to remove lead from household water and make it safe for people to drink. The filters are only certified to 150 parts per billion, the agency said.

"Residents are encouraged to have their water tested to be sure the levels are below 150 parts per billion," the EPA said. "While water safety experts remain confident in the ability of the filters to remove the lead, vulnerable populations, especially pregnant women and children under 6 years old, should drink bottled water until they get results showing that their water is below 150 parts per billion."