On Monday, the city of Flint, MI, declared a state of emergency due to the high levels of lead found in local children’s blood, The Washington Post reports. Mayor Karen Weaver declared the emergency three months after a report found lead levels in children under 5 had nearly doubled since the town switched its water source from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in 2014. A statement released by the mayor’s office called the situation a “man-made disaster.” Residents have been complaining about the water for months, saying that the water is “caustic.” A report in 2001 found that the river downstream from Flint “suffered from poor water quality due to unregulated discharges by industries and municipalities.” For decades, the river was used as a dumping ground for untreated waste from industrial businesses and towns. The report found that, in 1993, the river was the most degraded water source of the larger group of Saginaw River tributaries. Lead can permanently impair a child’s development. High levels of lead can lead to lower IQs, decreased verbal competence, worse speech processing, and lower attention spans. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry warns that “at high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death.” The statement from the mayor's office advises that the damage done to children in the city is "irreversible" and will result in a higher rate of learning disabilities and an increased need for mental-health services, special education, and social services to aid children who have been impaired by toxic lead exposure. Although those who could afford it now purchase bottled water for drinking and even bathing, many had no choice but to use contaminated tap water. Several families have filed a class-action lawsuit against the city over the water and its effects on the town. The suit alleges that city officials ignored evidence that the water exposed residents to “extreme toxicity,” and falsely assured citizens that the water was safe. The lawsuit claims that the contaminated water caused skin lesions and hair loss, chemically induced hypertension, autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders and seizures, vision and memory loss, and psychological issues including depression and chronic anxiety.