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Flint’s pipes were only part of the problem in the city’s water crisis.
The absence of a water treatment — called orthophosphate — was a major contributor to lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply, scientists confirmed recently in Environmental Science and Technology Letters. Omitting orthophosphate, which controls metal corrosion, caused lead embedded in the pipes to leach into the water. The results suggest Flint’s public health emergency could have been prevented if this corrosion control had not been overlooked.