Clean water is a necessity and a privilege Americans often take advantage of. We expect to have the ability to take showers whenever we want, drink water straight from the tap without fear, and have unlimited access for all cooking needs. Residents of Hoosick Falls, NY are learning the hard way how precious accessible clean water really is.
Rewind back to August 2014. Michael Hickey, a resident of Hoosick Falls, NY had just contacted his mayor after losing his father to kidney cancer. Hickey had suspicions that this cancer was not naturally occurring: he believed it was linked to the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), considering his father did not drink or smoke, a common link to kidney cancer. Hickey did extensive research on chemicals his father could have potentially been exposed to while working at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Plant. This is what led to the investigation that eventually exposed unsafe levels of PFOA in the drinking water of Hoosick Falls.
This nation is becoming more aware of polluted water as a result of the incident in Hoosick Falls, NY in addition to the crisis in Flint, Michigan and similar warnings in a town called Sebring in Ohio. With all the death and sickness and tragedy, the one positive result that may come of these situations is nationwide awareness of safe water. The key to spreading awareness will be folks like Hickey who are willing to investigate, speak out, and make their experience with unsafe water public.
In order to overcome the water crises that are popping up around the nation, the effected residents can take a number of steps to raise awareness and hopefully draw enough attention to stop the issue from continuing and harming the lives of more people. Sometimes contacting local officials for information or requesting water testing can be effective. Sometimes, it leads to frustration and non action. If the latter is the case, in the digital age, the Internet is the best tool. Write a blog on the issue, post conversation starters on social media platforms, and make sure to use buzzwords and hashtags to strengthen the SEO and gain as much online attention as you can. Spread the word. Nothing can happen if the majority is unaware of the issue.
Once proper awareness has been produced, action can be taken. With social pressure, awareness is the first and necessary step to action. Flint has finally gotten national attention, and although it is much belated, steps are finally being taken to give the people of Flint safe drinking water. Be like Michael Hickey: trust your instincts, voice them, and work on making effective change.