Flint water disaster topic of talk by Virginia Tech scientist

by Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich—A member of the Virginia Tech team that helped break the story about Flint's lead-poisoning problem will be at Western Michigan University Tuesday, Feb. 9, to talk about using science to serve the public good.

Siddhartha Roy, a graduate student and communication director for Virginia Tech's Flint Water Study, will speak at 7 p.m. in 1910 Sangren Hall. His talk, "Science as a Force for Public Good," is sponsored by the Lee Honors College and is free and open to the public. 

Now a story being covered by national media outlets, news of the Flint water problems was still unknown when the team of young scientists that Roy is part of traveled to Flint last year to respond to growing concerns from residents about critical changes to the city's water quality. Now backed by a National Science Foundation grant, the team, led by Civil Engineering Professor Dr. Marc Edwards, mounted what it viewed as a scientific relief effort to expose the level of lead in drinking water that was endangering the health and safety of the city and, in particular, its children.

Their findings of soaring lead levels in the water in many of the city's homes were initially discounted by state officials. The team's data and lead-poisoning information gathered by a Flint pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, ultimately led to the water crisis becoming widely known. The city is now under a federal state of emergency designation as both the state and Environmental Protection Agency address the problem. The Virginia Tech team announced earlier this month that it is now able to wrap up its work in Flint. More about their work can be found at flintwaterstudy.org.

Water issues in the Great Lakes region is a special focus of the Lee Honors College this year, with a weekly lecture series devoted to the topic.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.