Filtering Flint water

While the household tap water filters that Flint residents have been given are effective at removing lead from drinking water, U-M researchers in the College of Engineering say they may unwittingly encourage the growth of microbes, including some that could cause diseases in people with weakened immune systems.

“We study how changes in the water quality affect the types of microorganisms that grow in the filter. What we found is that even very small minute changes in some trace compounds to begin with can have a dramatic affect on the types of microorganisms that grow (on the filter),” said Terese Olson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. ‘We’re concerned about the Flint system because this water has certainly undergone some dramatic changes and the types of microorganisms we might expect would be different.


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