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Flint-Like Levels Of Lead Detected In Water At Three Texas Centers For The Disabled

Bottled water is being given to residents and employees at the Brenham facility.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Before recent findings, lead was detected in a state-supported facility in 2014; the music world lost two Texas legends early this week; take these precautions to avoid Zika this summer; and more.

Recent tests of the water at State Supported Living Centers in Brenham, El Paso and San Angelo revealed toxic lead rivaling the amount found in the water system in Flint, Michigan. In Brenham, studies found the water had 18 times the maximum acceptable level, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Officials at the Brenham facility are now distributing bottled water to residents and employees, but the Texas Department of State Health Services and DADS (the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services) want people to be screened for negative, long-term effects of exposure, Texas Standard reported.

But, before these recent findings and before the crisis in Flint, lead was found in the water at the Austin state-supported living center in 2014. But it was not given same kind of attention by the media or the public, Dennis Borel, head of the Coalition of Texans With Disabilities, told Texas Standard. He said he’s surprised other facilities weren’t immediately checked after lead was found in Austin.

“Now, as a society, we have an elevated awareness that lead concentration in drinking water is an extremely serious condition, and we need to treat it seriously. I’m calling on DADS, the Department of Aging and Disability Services, to respond not just with bottled water. Let’s see if there’s any damage that’s been done to these residents.”

Considering current conditions of the facilities Borel said “the lead findings should prompt Texas lawmakers to re-evaluate whether State Supported Living Centers are needed. Borel would rather see the state reallocate resources to promote more community-based health care, like group homes,” The Dallas Morning News reported. About 3,100 Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in the 13 centers across the state. Read more and listen to the conversation. [The Dallas Morning News, Texas Standard]

  • Two legendary Texas musicians died over the course of Monday night and Tuesday morning. Tejano singer Emilio Navaira, known to many by his first name “Emilio,” died at 53 of natural causes in his New Braunfels home, NPR reported. Emilio, born in San Antonio, was revered for his music both in the U.S. and Mexico and made his career on blending languages and genres. Hours later, on Tuesday morning, songwriter Guy Clark, who was in poor health, died Tuesday at 74 at his home in Nashville, The Associated Press reported. Clark was a native of Monahans, Texas, Clark was known for such hits as ‘L.A. Freeway’ and "Desperados Waiting for a Train.” Read more about the life and career of Emilio Navaira and Guy Clark. [The Associated Press, NPR]

In November 2009, Clark performed one of the first live sessions for KERA's sister station, KXT 91.7.


  • Rougned Odor, infielder for Texas Rangers, has been suspended for eight games for punching Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. During Sunday’s game in Arlington, Rangers rookie Matt Bush opened the eighth inning with 96-mph fastball that hit Bautista. The Associated Press reported: “Later, Justin Smoak bounced to third with one out. Bautista slid hard and late into the right leg of second baseman Rougned Odor and 8 feet past second base. Odor shoved Bautista, then threw a punch to his jaw that made Bautista's head snap back.” In you missed it, here’s the punch heard round the Globe (Life Park). [The Associated Press, SportsDay]

  • Dallas is struggling with the lack of affordable, permanent housing for the former residents of Tent City. After the May 4 closure of the encampment beneath I-45 near downtown, hundreds of homeless people were left in an even more uncertain housing situation. The Texas Tribune reported: “Homeless advocates and city officials are hoping to rally support for a type of subsidized housing — typically in apartment complexes — with access to caseworkers and support services for disabling conditions, such as mental illness and addiction.” In an effort to provide more permanent housing, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the creation of the Dallas Commission on Homelessness, which is expected to propose long-term housing strategies to the city council in August in time for the next bond election. Read more on the issue. [The Texas Tribune]


  • Pregnant women and their partners living in Texas and other Gulf states need to take these precautions this summer to best avoid contracting Zika. For women who are not pregnant, getting bitten by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes typically results in mild rash, joint pain or fever. But, for women at any stage of pregnancy, contracting the virus — either through the particular mosquito species or sexual intercourse —could lead to severe brain damage of the fetus. Here are a few safety precautions to take: Wear long-lasting bug repellant, long sleeves and long pants; find out if A. aegypti mosquitoes have been detected in your community; get rid of any containers with standing water, where mosquitos can breed. Read more. [NPR]