Water Expert Says Mark Ruffalo Should Keep His Acting Job, Leave Flint Crisis To Specialists

(REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Virginia Tech professor and water expert Marc Edwards ripped into Hollywood’s Mark Ruffalo and his nonprofit group Water Defense for spreading unfounded claims about the safety of Flint’s water supply.

Edwards, who initially blew the whistle on the Flint water lead-poisoning scandal, wrote in a blog post Monday that Ruffalo should spend more time making superhero movies and less time spreading misinformation about Flint’s water. He wrote Ruffalo has suggested the city’s water has a chemical in it that makes it dangerous to bathe in.

The Virginia Tech scientist explained that the chemical Ruffalo was referring to is chloroform, which is common in tap water. Citing a person Edwards said is not a scientist, Ruffalo suggested it is possible that the chloroform came from the corroded water pipes.

Edwards called Ruffalo’s suggestion an “absurd hypothesis.”

“Water Defense came to Flint after a federal emergency was declared, and has exploited the fears of traumatized Flint residents, whose unfortunate prior experience taught them to carefully listen to views of outsiders who question authority,” Edwards wrote.

He added: “Flint residents can be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but not everyone who challenges the claims of the EPA, and state of Michigan are automatically correct.”

The blog post was in response to a CNN interview Ruffalo gave about the chemical in Flint’s water.

“Where the problem really lies is not the EPA, nor the State of Michigan, nor … Dr. Marc Edwards, can tell the people of Flint that it’s safe to bathe in that water because there are no standards,” Ruffalo said during the May interview. “We haven’t done enough study. There is up to 600 different disinfectant byproducts that haven’t been studied …We do not know where these disinfection byproducts are coming from — are they coming from the corroded lead, or are they coming from galvanized iron pipes?”

Ruffalo and Water Defense then back peddled their claim, saying they were only wondering if the water was safe to bathe in.

Edwards wasn’t having any of that guff, chastising the “Incredible Hulk” actor for spreading fear based on nothing.

“Excuse me? Isn’t this akin to standing up and screaming ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded movie theater — then, after watching panicked people stampede to the exits and getting hurt, claiming that ‘FIRE!’ really meant ‘I DO NOT KNOW IF THERE IS A FIRE!'” Edwards wrote.

Water Defense’s mission, according to its website, is to “use technology and public engagement to inform people about what is in their water, hold water polluters accountable,” and to protect the fundamental right for individuals to have access to safe drinking water. Water Defense has been working since January to convince Michigan to warn citizens against bathing and showering in the city’s water supply.

The Oscar-nominated actor has gone on global warming-based screeds recently against many people, including President Barack Obama, whom he says refuses to sell out fully to the climate action movement.

Ruffalo wrote in a March editorial, titled “Dear President Obama: The Clean Energy Revolution is Now,” that Obama has invested in renewable energies and has issued strong rhetoric against so-called global warming deniers, yet he has also supervised “a massive expansion of oil and natural gas drilling, much of it by more and more dangerous and extreme methods, chiefly fracking.”

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