Flint’s Water Crisis – Fix It Now!

Flint, Michigan has a crisis that needs immediate attention.

You’ve heard about the lead that has been leaching out of the pipes of the homes, schools and businesses in Flint.  Let me summarize the facts, and then I’ll propose a solution.

  • In April 2014, Flint chose to draw the city’s water from the Flint River as a cost-cutting maneuver, rather than continuing to use the Detroit water supply.
  • The water from the Flint River was highly corrosive to the lead pipes found throughout the city of Flint and its homes, allowing the lead to be released into the tap water.
  • After a year and a half, the city switched back to Detroit water after unsafe levels of lead were found in Flint children.
  • Even though the corrosive Flint River water is no longer used, the lead from the pipes continues to seep into the drinking water. The pipes cannot be made safe.
  • The amount of lead detected in Flint tap water is deadly. Some levels are so high, the water meets the EPA classification of “toxic waste.”


  • Let me be clear about this – the level of lead in the Flint water system is like deadly radiation. It’s beyond the level that one can ignore or take steps to work around.  Here’s an article from the Washington Post which illustrates the toxicity.
  • There is no safe amount of lead exposure.  It lowers a child’s IQ and adversely affects nearly system in the body.  The effects cannot be reversed and are lifelong.
  • Water quality superstar Professor Marc Edwards (winner of a McArthur Genius grant for his work on our water infrastructure crisis in the U.S.) stated in an NPR interview, “The damage that was done to Flint’s children and to the pipes cannot be undone. The price tag to just replace the city-owned pipes completely would be $1.5 billion.”  He also noted that it’s usually a 30-year process to replace an entire distribution system.

The situation is clear.  Flint cannot be made safe in the foreseeable future, and we cannot expect Americans with this threat to their health and life.

The only solution is that Flint must be abandoned.

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America’s Fittest Cities – ACSM

The annual American Fitness Index is well-intentioned but conflicting metrics dilute its focus.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released their sixth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) which “evaluates the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles in the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States.”

I’m going review their study and tell you what they did right, and where the ACSM could improve their analysis.  In fact, I’ll show you how in their effort to make a great study, they actually ended up making their index much weaker.

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Sleepless Cities

The results of our newest study were released today on the CBS show, Sunday Morning.  Louisville, KY earned the top spot of Most Sleepless City, and Honolulu residents got the best rest in our study of insomnia.
(see the video clip on CBS)

Our new study ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, home to fully half of the U.S. population.  The Sperling study analyzes over 400,000 responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (the world’s largest telephone survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and also considers factors contributing to poor sleep,
such as joblessness, divorce, and lengthy commuting.

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Most Congested Cities

Some of the most rewarding and interesting studies I do deal with health issues.  Recently I was asked to find those U.S. cities that are most challenged by nasal congestion.  It’s a significant issue, as one in five Americans suffers from chronic nighttime nasal congestion.

We looked at a host of indicators, such as pollen and allergens as well as usage of OTC and prescription congestion drugs.

There’s a nice article on the NPR site here:  Most Congested Cities on NPR

And here’s the detailed official press release:  Most Congested Cities 2011