Why Flint’s Water Crisis Is So Incredibly Bad

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Doctor says polluted Flint water worse for children than originally thought.

The polluted water coming out of the taps in Flint, Michigan may be worse for children than previously thought, according to the doctor who discovered that the children were at risk of brain damage from the city’s water supply.FLINT, MI — Current actions to protect the public from lead in water appear to be taking place without a system to measure results and delineate responsibilities, according to a task force charged with reviewing Flint’s lead-in-water crisis.

Rick Snyder has named a point person to coordinate the state’s response to the Flint water crisis after members of an independent task force that he created raised concerns. As many as 15% of those tested in certain city hotspots have shown dangerous levels of lead in their blood, according to Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at the local hospital who raised the alarm in the summer about metal in the water. “This is an emergency.

People think of disasters as being hurricanes, or tornadoes, or ice storms, but this is a disaster right here in Flint that is alarming and absolutely gut-wrenching,” Hanna-Attisha said on Wednesday. Task force members wrote a letter to Snyder last week citing the absence of a framework that “measures results and clearly delineates responsibilities,” including goals and timelines. The need for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality to set goals for actions in collaboration with local and federal agencies and organizations. The newly elected mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, declared a state of emergency on Monday night,calling for federal assistance to deal with what she labeled a “manmade disaster”.

Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the polluted local river in April 2014, immediately triggering widespread complaints of illness and protests. Officials have told Flint residents not to drink unfiltered tap water and FEMA delivered about 7,400 gallons of bottled water to a local food bank in Flint on Monday.

Weaver said damage to children caused by lead exposure is irreversible and the city will need to spend more on special education and mental health services as a result. The task force letter said it is important that someone “potentially independent” of any state agency be appointed to coordinate ongoing activities and report on mitigation measures. In August 2015, Hanna-Attisha, who runs the pediatric residency program at the children’s hospital in the city’s large Hurley Medical Center, spoke with a friend who was a water quality expert and former worker at the Environmental Protection Agency.

She did and found that the proportion of children across a city sample who had blood lead levels in the danger zone had doubled from 2.1% before the switch to river water to 4% after. After Dr Hanna-Attisha told officials of the results of her testing, she was denigrated, but she persisted and, after much cross-checking, officials finally accepted her results and not long after, switched the water supply back again. So she said that many children may not have had elevated lead levels at the time of testing, but if they had been exposed previously, the damage could already have been done but remained undetected. Any physical damage done by the lead cannot be undone, but its effects can be mitigated with good nutrition, extra educational stimulation for young children and, in future, extra support at school, Hanna-Attisha said.

Flint Councilman Josh Freeman said he doesn’t want residents to expect immediate help with the city’s water infrastructure, including lead service lines, because of the declaration.

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