Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

How contaminated is some of the water in Flint, Michigan? So contaminated that it can't even be treated by filters.

Federal officials said Friday that at least 26 of the 4,000 water samples from Flint that have been tested since December contained amounts of lead well beyond the 150 parts per billion that the water filters distributed in the city can handle. The Detroit Free Press reported that the levels "ranged from 153 parts per billion to more than 4,000 parts per billion."

Advertisement

Dr. Nicole Lurie, an official at the Department of Health and Human Services, said that this did not mean that the filters wouldn't work. Even so, 150 parts per billion is already ten times the amount of lead that the federal government considers dangerous enough to trigger action.

The crisis in Flint has turned into national news as the sheer scope of the catastrophe caused by the poisoned water—and Michigan's failure to tackle it—became clear.

On Friday, The New York Times noted a particularly callous response one woman had received:

Emails released by the office of Gov. Rick Snyder last week referred to a resident who said she was told by a state nurse in January 2015, regarding her son’s elevated blood lead level, "It is just a few IQ points. … It is not the end of the world."