Two more top Michigan officials have been charged in connection with the Flint water crisis that left the city’s municipal water supply contaminated with lead.
Nick Lyon, the head of Michigan’s health department was charged with involuntary manslaughter for his role in the events leading up to the crisis, while Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical officer was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to police.
Lyon is the highest-ranking official yet to be prosecuted for the water crisis. He is accused of failing to alert the public of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area, which was linked to the city’s water supply.
Flint's water was tainted for at least 18 months after the city switched its water supply from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure.
The city switched its water supply in 2014 without ensuring that water from the Flint River had been treated with anti-corrosive agents, as required by law. It corroded the city's old water mains, turning drinking water brown due to iron contamination, and leached lead from smaller pipes that carried water into homes.
In all, nearly 100,000 people were affected by the contaminated water and U.S. federal health officials found that young children in Flint had significantly higher levels of dangerous lead in their blood.
Lead in water supplies can cause profound and permanent health problems, particularly in children whose brains and nervous systems are still developing.
The city returned to its original water source in October 2015.