— -- The ongoing water-quality crisis in Flint, Michigan, is drawing the attention of even the area's youngest residents, prompting members of Girl Scout Brownie Troop 71729 to write letters to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder voicing their concerns.
Snyder declared a state of emergency earlier this month due to elevated levels of lead in the water system in Flint. Michigan State Police, along with the National Guard, have been distributing free bottles of water and water filters to residents. But the state and local governments have been criticized for what critics say was a slow response to the crisis.
In the letters from the scouts in Brownie Troop 71729, posted Tuesday and addressed to Snyder, the pint-sized residents expressed their concern about the situation.
"I am so mad what happn [sic] in flint," one girl wrote. "It is bad for kids. They don't have clean water to drink for almost two years. I hope you fix this problem."
Another girl wrote that the troop is "worried about kids in Flint."
Elevated lead levels were found in the Flint water supply after the city disconnected from Detroit's water supply and began drawing its water from the Flint River in March 2014. It was intended as a stop-gap measure until the completion of a pipeline to Port Huron Lake as the source for Flint's municipal water.
But it was later discovered that lead from the old pipes had begun to leach into the water due to improper treatment. And even though the supply was switched back to the Detroit water supply in October, the anti-corrosive chemicals that were used to prevent the leaching have not yet been able to stop lead from being present in the water, a state spokeswoman told ABC News last month.
The letters from the scouts were posted to the Flint Water Study website. The study is run by an independent research team from Virginia Tech that is attempting to help resolve scientific uncertainties about the water crisis.
Health and government officials said they are still trying to figure out the long-term consequences of the water crisis. Elevated lead levels in water can be especially dangerous for children because their bodies are still developing. Lead is a known neurotoxin that can result in a lifetime of side effects. Exposure can mean decreased IQ and behavioral issues, among other things, according to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that the agency is also investigating a spike of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area to see if it is related to lead exposure. Ten deaths due to Legionnaires' disease have been reported, according to the agency.
Flint, with a population of about 100,000, realized savings of about $4 million annually by using the Flint River instead of relying on Detroit's water supply, according to the Associated Press.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said it started testing for blood lead levels on a bi-weekly basis as of December among people who wish to be tested.