• U.S.

Michigan Officials Warned About Flint Water Long Before Problems Began

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A Michigan official warned others in the state government of potential health problems if Flint began to consume water from the Flint River, according to emails released Friday. The state signed off on the switch despite the warning.

The email from Stephen Busch of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, reported by MLive, suggests that the switch could put public health at risk by increasing the presence of disinfectant byproducts and microbials in the water. The emails eventually wound up in the hands of the Department of Treasury, which approved the switch. Busch was later suspended during investigations into the mishandling of the crisis.

Read More: The Poisoning of an American City

The emails shine new light on the mishandling of poisoned water in Flint. A previous batch of emails released by the governor’s office shows officials were concerned about the political fallout of the problem and who would be blamed for it. At the federal level, an official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a memo warning his superiors of high lead levels in Flint, but the agency did not act on his findings.

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Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com