FLINT ( WJRT)- (8/5/16)- It's a disease that killed 12 people in Genesee County, leaving dozens more hospitalized: Legionnaries' Disease.
Now researchers from several universities and organizations are coming to mid-Michigan as they plan to do extensive testing of Flint's water.
Leon El-Alamin runs M.A.D.E. Institute, an organization making a difference in the lives of young people and those who once served time in prison by getting a second chance at life. Not too long ago, El-Alamin was contacted by researchers at Wayne State University.
"What they're going to be doing is an independent study on the Flint River Water, and testing it for Legionnaires' Disease and other bacteria that may still be lingering in our water," El-Alamin said.
M.A.D.E. is partnering with Wayne State, Kettering, U of M and a host of other environmental engineering and public health experts.
"What we're actually doing is providing them with some space and some labor," El-Alamin said.
The aim of the project is to reduce the risk of Legionella infection among residents living in the city of Flint and Genesee County.
Legionella bacteria are known cases of severe lung disease, including pneumonia. The team of experts will monitor water sources in the community, with the goal of reducing exposure to Legionella bacteria among residents who are at increased risk.
Legionnellosis (Legionnaires' Disease) is most likely to affect high-risk residents such as those who are elderly, have a history of smoking, or who suffer from diabetes, lung disease, cancer, a compromised immune system or end-stage kidney or liver disease. It is not typically transmitted between people, but through aerosols of contaminated water, such as showers, humidifiers, hot tubs and large buildings where a significant portion of water is stagnant.
Researchers have already hit the ground running at M.A.D.E. Institute's building, the Broome Center. So far, the University has sampled a few homes throughout the city. And it's not just research they're focusing on.
"They actually hired about 30 individuals local, who will be local workers. They're community navigators and so forth. From M.A.D.E. institute, they've hired two individuals," El-Alamin said.
Flint resident Darnell Watson was one of the two. A few months ago, ABC 12 News interviewed Watson about the struggles he faced trying to get a job after serving 13 years in jail.
How hard has it been for you to find a job? We asked him back in April.
"I haven't had any luck really. I could do anything that's legal and positive," Watson said.
Four months later, he's found it. Watson is now helping Wayne State by keeping track of data and working as one of the project's community navigators.
"It means so much to me now that I'm not part of the problem. I'm trying to be a part of the solution," Watson said.
The M.A.D.E. Institute tells ABC 12 News researchers will be here doing their research and studies for the next several months.