A behind the scenes look at the MDEQ Testing Lab

Many Flint residents wonder where the thousands of water samples end up when they get tested for lead and copper in their water. (Photo Credit: Drew Moore)

Many Flint residents wonder where the thousands of water samples end up when they get tested for lead and copper in their water.

FOX66’s Drew Moore got to go behind the scenes at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Testing Lab in Lansing Monday to see the testing take place.

The department opened up the doors to give us a look inside, along with Flint resident Allen Gilbert.

He's a little skeptical about what goes on inside these doors.

“Some things can be done more open and transparent from the state's standpoint," said Gilbert.

So why roll out the welcome mat now?

"We just want to be completely forthright with everyone about what we're finding,” said MDEQ Flint Action Plan Coordinator George Kristian.

Kristian is doing his part to rebuild trust with residents like Gilbert during the water testing process.

"They can have absolute confidence that when they submit a sample in here that the number they are getting is truly representative of what they sent in,” said Kristian.

And they are busy.

"Back in February, we analyzed 7,900 copper levels for the city of Flint alone. When we saw results in the thousands of parts per billion it's hard not to take notice of something like that,” said Kristian.

As those results started pouring in, the cries for answers got louder.

“We took the approach that whatever resources are necessary that is what we would deploy. we've got five different prongs of testing going on. we're doing residential testing, we've got schools, food facility testing, as well as elevated blood lead level investigations and sentinel testing. plus, we have some projects on the side with various community members,” said Kristian.

Recent lab results show the water quality is improving quickly.

“Our results compare very nicely to what Dr. Edwards is finding,” said Kristian.

So after a few hours, and quite a few questions, does Gilbert now believe in what's happening in this building?

“I think this is the start that we needed. I saw it with my own eyes, so no one can tell me it's not being done. I saw it myself. I think if they gave the all clear I would stand behind it. I would be the first one to voice to my neighbors and the citizens of Flint. You can take it to the bank,” said Gilbert.

Still, the answer about when the all clear will come isn't known.

Four different teams - the MDEQ, Wayne State University, Dr. Mark Edwards and Virginia Tech and the EPA are all doing their own independent testing. They’ll all have to agree that the water is safe to use in order for the emergency to be lifted.

So in the meantime officials are asking everyone to still continue to use those water filters, and continue to get their water tested.

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