Consequences of Flint’s Water Crisis, Part 2
A major challenge facing the Flint community in years to
come will be identifying which children are at the highest risk of
contamination-related problems and determining all future evidence of injury.
This will be critical because, even after lead exposure stops, the effects
could last for years—or can even become permanent.
Making future treatment additionally challenging, no drugs
are available to reverse the developmental damage that can be caused by lead
ingestion. However, because blood tests can reveal levels of lead within a
person’s system, the tracking of this byproduct is possible.
“Distributing bottled water and point-of-use filters that
require regular replacement are only short-term interventions. The solution
requires financial investment in comprehensive and effective water treatment
and the replacement of obsolete, damaged and toxic infrastructure,” Rubin said.
“Nothing short of that—and effective, enforced regulation, monitoring and
oversight—will ensure that children are being protected from exposure to lead
and/or hundreds of other harmful contaminants in municipal water systems.”
Steps Being Taken
Trying to get her city back on the right foot after dozens of lead-positive
blood tests, the mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, said during a December 2015
press conference that she is seeking support from the federal government to
deal with the “irreversible” effects of lead exposure on the city’s children.
She said she believes that these health consequences will lead to an enhanced
need for special education and mental health services, as well as developments in
the juvenile justice system.
The Flint physician who first raised red flags about the
elevated lead levels in children, Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of Hurley's
pediatric residency program and an assistant professor in the Department of
Pediatrics and Human Development at Michigan State University, has been
selected to head a collaboration between Hurley Medical Center, Michigan State
University and other community organizations. This collaboration intends to
fight to combat lead exposure among children and residents who were exposed to
harm after the disastrous city water switch, according to Michigan Live.4
Additional external assistance is also being offered to the
city from companies like AQUAhydrate, a bottled water company owned in part by
Mark Wahlberg and Sean “Diddy” Combs. AQUAhydrate has stated that it will send
5,000 cases of water to Flint.
Ultimately, in the midst of this crisis, the general public,
government and health officials must continue to work to find effective ways to
treat the people who have consumed the contaminated water.
1. Flint Water Study. Pediatric Lead Exposure Presentation
from Hurley Medical Center doctors concerning Flint MI. http://goo.gl/Lk6CEm
2. World Health Organization. Lead Poisoning and Health.
Available at: http://goo.gl/R7H989
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health
Problems Caused by Lead. http://goo.gl/aZKuax
4. Michigan Live. Flint doctor will head team to fight
health problems from Flint water crisis. http://goo.gl/KYUs5N