Researcher Says Tests Link Flint Water to Legionnaires’ Disease

VT prof says Flint’s tainted water was perfect for Legionella to thrive. 12 deaths in area from Legionnaires’ disease.

Bre’Anna Tinsley/WDET

A researcher says he has developed evidence that the decision to use the Flint River as a water source for the city is probably responsible for a rash of deaths from Legionnaires’ disease.

Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards is one of the chief investigators who raised alarms that Flint’s water supply had been contaminated with lead.

Now Edwards says in an email to WDET that he’s found water from the Flint River also contained significant amounts of iron.

Edwards says when officials failed to properly treat the corrosive river water it created a perfect environment for Legionella bacteria to thrive in buildings where it had never existed before.

In 2015 an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area killed a dozen people and made about 90 more sick.

Prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into the fatalities, but there has not yet been any scientific proof that the deaths are tied to the change in Flint’s water supply.


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.