Recent lead study may determine how long Benton Harbor will be on bottled water, MDHHS officials say


BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) – Almost 100,000 cases of water have been provided to residents of Benton Harbor so far, but how long will residents be forced to rely on bottled water?

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, this will depend on the results of a recent main study that focuses on whether or not “water chemistry is suitable for use with a filter.” .

“We are in the process of working with the EPA to develop a test study for the filters to ensure that they effectively remove lead from the town of Benton Harbor,” said MDHHS Executive Director Elizabeth Hertel , at 4 News Now Wednesday.

But until the study is complete, Hertel says she advises residents to continue to follow state guidelines to stay away from faucets if necessary.

“I just like to repeat that bottled water is for drinking, for cooking, for washing food, for brushing your teeth. But the water from the taps can still be used for cleaning, laundry, showering, bathing. And it’s important that water continues to flow through the pipes so that the corrosion controls in place are working, ”Hertel explains.

However, research shows that any ingestion of lead-filled water can lead to problems with learning, behavior, speech, hearing, growth rate and development of the nervous system.

But in order to find out who has been exposed to lead, authorities are advising residents to take a blood lead test, speak to a health care provider, or contact the local health department.

“So that we in the health department can make sure that we mitigate the risk of lead exposure, especially for your children but for all members of the community, we are asking to pause on the filters until so that we can be sure that the chemistry of the water is appropriate for use with a filter, ”says Hertel.

At the moment, Hertel says there is no timeline on when the MDHHS will receive the results of its latest lead study.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a timetable as we are working closely with them (EPA) to develop the methodology for this study. But we are continuing to work on this and hope to have the details on it fairly soon, ”Hertel said.

In addition, the MDHHS on Wednesday evening released the following information on future water collection sites and how families in Benton Harbor can register to have lead removed from their home (s). :

The ongoing response at Benton Harbor includes the city, the Berrien County Department of Health, local community organizations, the MDHHS, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

By late Tuesday, the MDHHS and volunteers had provided 95,829 cases of free bottled water to community distribution sites and deliveries to residents confined to their homes or without access to transportation. Additional dates and locations for bottled water collection will be added to ensure community needs are met. The information will be published on

MDHHS is engaged in a long-term effort to eliminate lead exceedances of intervention levels, educate communities about the effects of lead in drinking water, and remove lead service lines. This collaborative effort includes the City of Benton Harbor, the Berrien County Department of Health, local community organizations, the MDHHS, and the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. These efforts also include recently approved funds to remove lead from city homes. Families living in Benton Harbor can request this service by completing and mailing an application available online. Residents can also call 866-691-5323 for information. For any questions about lead, MDHHS can be contacted at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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