Were There Excess Fetal Deaths from the Flint Water Crisis?

Detail of map of Flint, Michigan

Thursday, April 8, 2021
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PDT




Check out this video to watch the Were There Excess Fetal Deaths from the Flint Water Crisis?.

A Speaker Series:
Toxicology and Societies
The Impacts of Chemicals in Our Lives

Brought to you in partnership with Huxley's Institute of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and the WWU Alumni Association

Please join us for the next speaker in our series on Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in our Lives.

From April 2014 to October 2015, the city of Flint, Michigan witnessed a major water crisis because of elevated lead (Pb) levels after the water source for Flint was changed. Some media reporting has claimed the exposures caused fetal deaths.

In this research talk, Dr. Siddhartha Roy will describe their research attempting to estimate if that is true. Specifically, they used a well-established biokinetic model to predict maternal blood lead levels and excess miscarriage rates due to water lead levels seen during the crisis. For context, miscarriage rates are also calculated for water lead levels during the 2000-04 Washington DC lead in drinking water crisis and 19th century lead abortifacient pills. Finally, they reviewed stillbirth and total fertility rates in Flint and a control city.

Our vision in developing this series was to support a better understanding of something that affects all of us. There are over 300,000 chemicals being produced and used in almost everything we wear, eat, and drink. How can you ever hope to understand when and where you or your family might be at risk from some of these chemicals? The short answer is, you can’t know everything about all of these substances, but you can learn more about how toxicology (the study of toxic substances) affects you and your society.

This seminar series aims to help you better appreciate, understand, and evaluate the many ways that manufactured chemicals interact with all humans on Earth.

More information about the speaker series is available here.

Siddhartha Roy

Dr. Siddhartha Roy


Dr. Siddhartha Roy is an environmental engineer and research scientist at Virginia Tech, where he conducts research at the intersection of drinking water, public health, and environmental justice.  Learn more about Dr. Roy at his Ted Talk profile. 

Ruth Sofield

Ruth Sofield


Ruth Sofield is a Professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry in the College of the Environment. She received her PhD and MS in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Ruth’s research group focuses on the effects of water and air pollution. Their current projects include the aquatic toxicity of microplastic and tire wear particles, and the use of moss as a biomonitoring tool for particulate matter. Ruth is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and the President of the Pacific Northwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Tracy Collier

Tracy Collier


Tracy Collier received his PhD in Fisheries Sciences from the University of Washington. He has worked for over 45 years as a toxicologist, with more than 35 of those years spent at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as the director of a science division that employed up to 100 people, covering several disciplines, including environmental toxicology, analytical chemistry, harmful algal blooms, and watershed processes. He has over 175 scientific publications, and currently is an affiliate faculty at Western.

Spring Quarter Upcoming Talks

April 22, 2021
Title: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
Speaker: Kate Moore (Author)

May 6, 2021
Title: Toxics and Indigenous Environmental Injustice in the Great Lakes Region of North America
Speaker: Jessica Koski (Bureau of Indian Affairs Midwest Region and member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula)

May 20, 2021
Title: Challenges of Treating PFAS, the Forever Chemical
Speaker: Michelle Crimi (Clarkson University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering)

June 3, 2021
Title: TBD
Speaker: Linda Birnbaum (American toxicologist, microbiologist and the former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences)

Questions and Accommodations

Contact the WWU Alumni Association for this event. Feel free to call at (360) 650-3353 or email at alumni@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.