Lead Sinker Story Timeline: Bizarre

This timeline has been updated on

  • Oct 2, 2017 — entries are labeled [Up-1]
  • Oct 3, 2017 — entries are labeled [Up-2]
  • Oct 25, 2017 — entries are labeled [Up-3]

Note:  We have collaborated with hundreds of Flint residents who have been truth seekers and truth speakers from the start– in our 2+ years of community engagement, we have only had problems with a few who seem to have other agendas. No matter what we discover about this particular case and those individuals, it does not detract from our collaborative success to date.

That said, the more we investigate the story of lead sinkers found in the plumbing of a Flint resident, the more sickening it appears to be. The following is a timeline of some key events starting in late June 2017 to present. We hope this helps you form your own opinions.

June 23, 2017.  The Flint resident was interviewed by “journalist” Carly Hammond (of Jordan Chariton’s TATM “News”).  She wishes her blood lead had been tested earlier, because she suspected it was high from showering in the water.

At one point, Carly and the resident repeat a false health claim made repeatedly by Scott Smith (formerly of Water Defense), regarding the supposed dangers of bathing or showering in water with elevated lead.  Specifically, the resident wrongly claimed that high doses of lead can be sorbed through the skin when bathing, after which the reporter falsely stated “Studies show that a person taking a 10 minute hot shower, inhales more lead particulates into their blood system, than a person drinking a liter of water.” 

As we have noted repeatedly since 2016, there is no such “study.”  But when has Jordan Chariton and his ilk, ever let facts get in the way of a great urban legend that they helped Water Defense and misguided Flint activists manufacture? The interview ends with the journalist, pleading with Flint residents to challenge any narrative that water lead levels are improving across the city.

June 30, 2017.  The resident receives her blood lead result of 2.7 ug/dL collected on June 25, 2017.

July 1, 2017.  The resident launches an online fundraiser campaign to raise funds because she was “poisoned by the water.”  At this point in time, there is no evidence her blood lead has ever tested high. In fact, her blood lead taken the day before is below the current Centers for Disease Control level of concern (= 5 ug/dL).

July 5, 2017.  The resident collects the first of many water samples, which would be found to contain astronomically high values of lead, in the thousands of ppb. The lead results are shared widely on social media by the resident and other activists to “challenge the narrative” that water lead levels are being reduced in Flint—implying or stating that the EPA, State of Michigan and others are lying to residents.

[Up-1] July 15, 2017.  The resident posts that she is taking baths using rain water.

~ July 15, 2017 [exact date unknown]. Update 1 on resident’s GoFundMe page: The picture on this site is a copy of my latest lead level that’s in my water, which the state is saying is my problem ! I’ll continue to fight for clean water for Flint as long as I’m physically able.

~ July 15, 2017 [exact date unknown]. Update 2 on resident’s GoFundMe page: Here’s the latest lead level in my home and as you can see the total amount of it in my water is 3818ppb That’s wayy over the allowable limit set by the goverment which is 15ppb. At least for now I have a rain barrel that I can use for water to bath in.

[Up-1] July 25, 2017. The resident posts on Facebook: “Another fun filled day trying to track down a free blood draw for lead!! […] I’ve got an appointment at 10am tomorrow. Stay tuned!!!”

[Up-1] July 26, 2017.  The resident’s blood lead tests at 38.4 ug/dL. Very high. The resident’s post concludes with “you most certainly can get lead poisoning by showering in toxic water!”

~ July 26, 2017 [exact date unknown]. Update 3 on resident’s GoFundMe page:  It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling so sick! This is the level of lead in my blood. I still try to make it to work everyday but it isn’t getting any easier. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

July 27, 2017.  Flintwaterstudy contacted early July 27th about high water lead and high blood lead results.  The resident’s version of the story is broadcast on ABC12.

[Up-1] July 29, 2017. Environmental Coffee House interview. In response to the question “How can this be happening with copper lines and all new fixtures in your home?”, the resident responds:  “There are lead mains in this city.”  Everyone needs everything replaced.  Mains, service lines, in home plumbing, water heaters, refrigerators, washing machines…. everything.

[Up-1] July 29, 2017. Environmental Coffee House interview. At 11:35, someone typed a comment that “Her T-shirt says ask me about 38.4! That is her blood level folks. Something is terribly wrong in Flint. Keep watching and keep everyone informed!”  At no point in the broadcast can one see beyond “Ask me” on the t-shirt. Assuming this comment is correct, and we don’t know how anyone knows what the entire shirt says, the resident rushed out after a high blood lead measurement, to purchase a customized t-shirt that says “Ask Me About <Blood Lead Level>!”

~ July 31, 2017 [exact date unknown].Update 4 on resident’s GoFundMe page: My health isn’t improving much and now I know why… I’m still being exposed to the lead in my water. Results of my latest blood lead level.

On or before August 3, 2017.  Lead sinkers discovered in resident’s plumbing.  The discovery is reported to EPA.

[Up-1] August 12, 2017.  A Flint activist talks about the resident’s high lead and the broader implications of her results  for all Flint residents:

2:01 How I possibly couldn’t have high lead in my water. Or anything wrong me. or my children. or my husband. Because I have a copper service line.

2:17 We have an amazing human being named Vicki Marx who has proven that wrong over and over again.

2:28 Some interesting statistics are gonna come out about the copper service lines right now. No one is safe in this city.

We have lead floating all over. […]

3:10 The whole <water distribution system> has to go. You cannot say that the straw is good when the drink is gross to begin with.

25:25 Because Vicki Marx hasn’t drank the water in like two years almost and her blood lead levels were recently 38.4. So, we need to look at the whole showering thing. […] Her lead levels are over 12,000 [ppb] from this month and she has a copper service line. So, I don’t want anyone settling into a false sense of security.

30:52 I didn’t win an award for highest lead. Right now, Vicki’s got that. So, Vicki, whatever kinda crown you want, baby doll, that’s yours. 

32:52 Vicki likes tiaras. You get a lead tiara, baby doll.

46:20 If I had copper to copper all the way to the curb, like Vicki Marx does, I could have this as my lead test. This was taken July 11th. Her 250 mL sample was 12064 ppb. Her 750 mL sample was 5639 ppb. It averages to 7245. […] So, they are saying that this is not possible or what. […] They are trying to say Melissa can’t have high lead because she has a copper service line. Oh really? So, how do you explain Vicki?

47:46 They also say you cannot get lead poisoning through showering. So, here’s Vicki’s blood lead level. 38.4. And that is through a finger prick which the CDC doesn’t recommend because it can show lower than what it actually is. And Vicki has done nothing but actually just bathe in the water for quite some time. So, that is a huge high level to be spiking for that. SO, now, now, we actually have to start researching if what you can actually absorb into your body. [Grant proposal on epidemiological study denied]

49:35 Breathing in the steam might be poisonous. We asked this. Scott Smith asked this question and then got completely trashed by the State of Michigan. Is that a possibility? We don’t know. […] Scientific testing should be done here and that is not being done. 

49:50 <points to the report open in front of her> Our lead is obviously not better

50:45 [When someone says one can’t have high lead because you have a copper service line, well..] Guess what galvanized are pumping high. And looks like copper is too.

It is an entire compromised infrastructure. So, of course, it’s gonna be everybody.

51:03 What if it’s a showering issue? We need data. [If they won’t do it, we will do an epidemiological study]

August 12, 2017.  Commenting on her data and experience in an August 12 interview (at time 17 min), the resident states “Everyone is saying you cannot get lead from showering in it. …As far as I’m concerned, the only way I could have been exposed to it, is from showering in it. But everyone up and down is saying you cannot absorb lead through your skin?”  In the entire interview, there is no mention made of lead sinkers being discovered in her home plumbing just a week earlier.

(July to) August to September 2017.  Results of this residents water lead and blood lead tests, are repeatedly circulated on social media by activists (collectively shared over 200 times; examples: here, here and here), whose openly stated agenda is to challenge a “narrative” about improving water lead.  The so-called “narrative,” is actually based on a scientific analysis of thousands of samples from three independent sources:  State of Michigan, U.S. EPA and Flintwaterstudy.

September 19, 2017.  The resident posts her blood lead test results at 22.1 ug/L (test conducted Sep 12, 2017)

September 21, 2017.  Jordan Chariton states in a rambling discussion about the situation in Flint “..to be honest with you, I do not understand why journalists are so worried about being wrong.  […] if you make assertions and it is found out later you were incorrect, there is nothing wrong with saying…..I was wrong.” 

September 26, 2017.  Flintwaterstudy.org reports results of EPA FOIA showing video with lead sinkers and other documents.

September 27, 2017.  The Flint Journal and ABC12 report on Flintwaterstudy documents. ABC12 reporter states that resident’s attorney “advised her not to talk to us.

September 28, 2017 morning. TYT’s Jordan falsely claimed that the samples from her house where the sinkers were found “SHOWED NON-DETECTS FOR LEAD”. Here is one example of her bathtub faucet lead-in-water levels at 399 ppb. Here is another. Jordan states “the lead sinkers found in Vicki’s home have NOTHING to do with her high lead-levels—NOTHING”.

He also reported that the sinkers “had to have been placed [where they were found]” and did not come from the resident.

September 28, 2017 evening. A Flint activist promised that the truth and science [regarding the sinkers] will be released soon

[Up-1] September 29, 2017 at 8:13pm.  Lawyer for Ms. Marx writes “I just received a Joint Statement from the Plumbers Union and a Water Test Consultant explaining what transpired….Kudos to you Mr. Harold Harrington and Water Expert, Scott Smith for coming forward…. the certified plumbers tested the sinkers at another water source shortly after removing them from Ms. Marx’s bathtub to prove that it’s unlikely that the sinkers caused the elevated lead levels in Ms. Marx’s water supply.  Our client and the plumbers have been transparent about this incident.” 

Ms. Marx’s lawyer further elaborated in writing elsewhere “No lead fish sinkers were ever found in her Bathroom where she showered and/or bathe…..another water expert who has been asked to evaluate Marc Edwards claim; has opined that due to the non corrosive nature of the Detroit water, no lead would have leached from the sinkers in the water anyway.”  “What the expert’s opinion is; those little sinkers would not have caused the kind of extremely high lead test results that came from Vickie’s plumbing based upon the non corrosive nature of the Detroit water.”

[Up-1] September 30, 2017.  Assorted Statements from Flint Activists Highlighting Their Scientific Explanation for the Situation:
“Thank you to the plumbers and the real experts who speak up for the victims […] The truth will be released soon!!” “[…] the sinkers in her bathtub are a distraction for people like you to hang on to and so the easily led will dismiss her extremely high tests […]” “According to the testing, the lead sinkers came back with a non detect. So they are not causing the high lead tests in her faucet.” <The reason the sinkers were not reported to law enforcement> was “Because there was more testing to be done and there was more information to be dug up. And they knew if they posted it before having all the facts, people might think the innocent resident was doing it. So that’s why they continue to do more testing, which is all part of the report.”  “[…] the sinkers were tested and came back non detect for lead […] SCIENCE INCLUDES TESTING. Harold and Scott already put that statement out with the test results.” “The science proves that the sinkers did not let off thousands of parts per billion. I mean, common Sense could have told you that.” “The plumbers did not want to report anything to law enforcement until they had proof that it was done to her and what had happened.”

All available discussion comments in full reproduced at the end of this timeline.

[Up-1] October 2, 2017. Dr. Edwards posts results from his experiments on the effects of lead sinkers in showers on water lead levels and human exposure.

[Up-2] October 2, 2017. The Flint Journal — Test shows fishing sinkers can spike lead in water to 6,000 times federal limit

[Up-2] October 2, 2017. Comment under this timeline from a person purporting to be one of the (lead sinker) resident’s lawyer:

You did not quote all of my facebook post’s, particularly the one where I made a correction that the fish sinkers were found in Ms. Marx’s Bathroom. Further, the statements made on my FB page were my statements and not as an individual Attorney for Ms. Marx. Mrs. Marx’s is represented by a Team of Attorneys as a Class Member of a Class Action Lawsuit.

[Up-2] October 2-3, 2017.

Question from a person purporting to be one of the (lead sinker) resident’s lawyer:

Edwards states among other things….tests show a single, new lead sinker, placed in a faucet with Flint water can cause lead levels to skyrocket…. while lead from a fishing sinker leaches very little lead when treated with phosphate to make the surface less reactive chemically.

He also says….”Lead from a fishing sinker leaches very little lead — just 2 ppb — when treated with phosphate to render the surface less reactive chemically, results from the experiments show”.

Does, Mr. Edwards know whether the lead sinkers found in the Bathroom of Victoria Marx had been treated with phosphate to render the surface less reactive chemically, and thus less likely to leach lead into the water? The answer is NO, because he has not had access the particular lead sinkers that were found, nor has he conducted test on the particular lead sinkers that were found….Therefore, as much of an expert as he claims to be; without having examined or tested the particular lead sinkers that were found in Ms. Marx’s fixture; he can’t make or arrive at any legitimate conclusion as to how they affected the water in her house or whether they contributed to the high water lead test results that were found in her home. Dahhhh?????

Flintwaterstudy.org response:

Our research showed that 1 new lead sinker, could contribute at least 91,500 ppb to first draw Flint water. With increased aging in Flint water, it could contribute as little as 2 ppb lead. That provides legitimate insights relevant to what could happen if a new lead sinker was placed into home plumbing. We find it very odd that this resident’s lawyer, is repeatedly downplaying the significance and dangers of lead sinkers found in their client’s plumbing. Is anyone else wondering, “Why wasn’t this immediately reported to law enforcement?”  “Why were these facts withheld from the public, until we conducted a FOIA of EPA?” The lawyer is correct that we do not have access to the particular lead sinkers that were found– we certainly hope that they are presently in the possession of law enforcement, because they are almost certainly evidence in a crime. Either someone tried to harm this resident by contaminating her water supply, or someone tried to artificially increase their lead in water for some reason, or other bizarre ideas we have not thought of yet.

[Up-3] ~October 16, 2017. GOFUNDME page of this Flint resident is no longer active.

[Up-3] October 25, 2017. Several people have written to “ask me about 38.4.”  Specifically, how much lead in water would an average 60 year old woman need to consume, to increase their blood lead from 2 to 38.4 ug/dL in less than 2 weeks?

Here are some estimates for three different scenarios, using computer simulations with the International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP) bio-kinetic model:

Scenario 1:  One swallow of water (100 mLs) containing 11,000 ppb lead.

Scenario 2:  A single glass of water (220 mLs) containing 5,000 ppb.

Scenario 3: Drinking 1 liter of water a day for 2 weeks, containing 160 ppb lead.

After we (i.e., Dr. Edwards) showered and bathed in water with more than 5,000 ppb lead in it, recording no detectable human lead exposure– this residents lawyer bizarrely challenged us to drink leaded water (presumably in the range 5,000-11,000 ppb as found in this resident’s home). Of course, doing so would contradict our repeated advice that no one in Flint (or living anywhere with a lead service pipe) should drink unfiltered tap water.  We hereby extend that warning to anyone living in a home in which lead fishing sinkers have been placed inside your home plumbing.

We are still waiting on promised scientific explanations for: 1) how the lead sinkers got there, 2) why the misguided lawyer and Flint activists believed that discovering lead sinkers was not worthy of public mention [whereas the high water lead and high blood lead measurements were repeated over and over].  We have also not heard the lawyer yet call for a criminal investigation to discover who put the lead sinkers into this residents plumbing, now more than 2 months after the lead sinkers were first discovered. Finally, there has been no follow up to threats from this lawyer, regarding a possible defamation lawsuit against us. Stay tuned.

[Up-3] October 25, 2017. State cites criminal probe, withholds emails related to lead sinker home in Flint

Download (PDF, 638KB)

Credits: Dr. Marc Edwards/Mr. Sid Roy

3 thoughts on “Lead Sinker Story Timeline: Bizarre

  1. You did not quote all of my facebook post’s, particularly the one where I made a correction that the fish sinkers were found in Ms. Marx’s Bathroom. Further, the statements made on my FB page were my statements and not as an individual Attorney for Ms. Marx. Mrs. Marx’s is represented by a Team of Attorneys as a Class Member of a Class Action Lawsuit.

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