(CNN) — The contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is taking an emotional toll on some of the city’s youngest residents.
Dominique Absell is only 18, his lifelong dream of joining the Army is dead.
The city he loves is a source of anxiety, partly because of the water crisis, and what has happened to his body since.
“I get headaches and passing out, seizure,” he said.
His family says doctors can’t pinpoint exactly why he began blacking out, sometimes several times a week. It means medically he can’t qualify for the Army, he isn’t even allowed to drive.
Blood tests showed low levels of lead, convincing his mother contaminants in the Flint water are to blame, but there’s no medical proof.
“It has to be the water,” said Beverly Davis. “He just stopped passing out because I started cooking the water.”
Absell is one of the children who will inherit the city of Flint, a city that is now a shell of its former self. Realty track estimates one in 14 homes has been abandoned. For three consecutive years ending in 2013, Flint had the most violent crimes per capita and about 40 percent of residents live beneath the poverty line.
Then came decision by government officials to save money by switching the water supply. It ended up creating a major health hazard.
Children as young as eight notice everything — the number of times they had to shelter in place if there’s a shooter, and the number of boarded-up houses in their neighborhood.
If it was up to them, their future won’t be in Flint. “Because this water is poisonous,” said 8-year-old Nadia Baylor. “If I drink it, I’m going to die, and I don’t want to die. Nobody wants to die.”
It’s been five months since Flint switched to a different water source, but tests show lead levels are still far above EPA recommendations in hundreds of homes.