In the midst of the Flint water crisis, plumbers union official Harold Harrington was among those offering help, sending hundreds of tradesmen to install filters and faucets for free, hand out lead-testing kits and inspect service lines.
He was so busy that he never got around to testing the water at his own home, he told NBC News. But last week, he finally turned samples over to the state lab. Results showed that the level of lead coming through his taps was 151 parts per billion — 10 times above the point at which the federal government says action must be taken.
Harrington thought back to how his dog, Lucy, had gotten so gravely ill in the summer that he had her euthanized. He also wondered if the lead level could explain why his wife Suzan's hair kept falling out or if it had anything to do with the persistent rash on the back of his head.
"I'm mostly upset at myself," said Harrington who, like most of his neighbors, accepted government assurances that the water the city began taking from the Flint River in April 2014 was perfectly safe to drink. "I should have known better. When I seen and smelled the nasty water, I should have known something was up. I never should have trusted them when they said it was safe."