The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has made headlines across America, and across the world.
Now, a groundbreaking study just released is shining new light on Flint, lead contamination in kids, and how to move forward.
The study examined lead in Flint children from 2006-2016, and the news is positive: Flint kids had record low levels of blood in their systems in 2016.
A spike is noted around 2015, when Flint switched from Detroit water to Flint River water, the start of the crisis, and there is also an unexplained uptick around 2011, but overall, levels are at historic lows.
These facts don’t quite fit the media’s narrative on Flint, so don’t expect to hear too many journalists talk about the new study.
The study certainly complicates Democrat talking points in November: if Flint has record low lead levels, the city will be hard to use as a political football the way Dems dream it could be.
The development could also throw a wrench in Attorney General Bill Schuette’s plans. Schuette has used the Flint Water Crisis to help his campaign for Governor by prosecuting multiple individuals Schuette claims are responsible.
According to the Detroit Free Press:
The study analyzed 15,817 blood samples from children ages 5 and younger beginning Jan. 1, 2006, and continuing through the crisis until Dec. 31, 2016. Water filters, pipe replacements and a switch in the source of Flint’s water supply were among efforts to protect people from poisoning in the years since an April 2014 switch resulted in dangerous lead levels in drinking water.
In the study’s 11-year span, the percentage of kids with blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend intervention, fell from 11.8% to 3.2%. And the mean amount of lead in their blood samples also dropped — from 2.33 micrograms per deciliter in 2006 to 1.15 in 2016.
“I think it’s fantastic news, actually,” said Dr. Hernan Gomez, the lead author of the study. He is a medical toxicologist and pediatrician at Michigan Medicine, focusing on pediatric care in the emergency department at Hurley Medical Center in Flint.”
The study notes that other Michigan communities have higher levels of children with lead issues than Flint.
“Flint isn’t alone in dealing with the problem of lead exposure among children,” according to the Free Press. “The researchers also noted that during the water crisis in Flint — when 3.75% of children ages 5 and younger had blood lead levels higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter — some other Michigan communities reported higher percentages of young children with elevated blood lead levels: 5.1% of kids in Jackson, 8% in Grand Rapids and 7.5% in Detroit. Statewide, 3.4% of children and 3.3% of kids nationally had lead levels above the CDC reference point during the same period.”
It’s important to recognize that while no amount of lead in a child’s system is positive, significant strides have been made.
The Free Press notes “In the 1976, for instance, 88% of American children ages 1 to 5 had blood lead levels of higher than 10 micrograms per deciliter, double the current CDC threshold. That compares with 3.3% of children in 2016 with levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher.”
>Gomez believes children in Flint should continue to be helped, as should kids in other communities with lead issues.
“We, as a research group, believe that resources should be allocated to reduce childhood blood lead levels in all communities that are impacted,” Gomez told the Free Press. “All children should receive treatment. Flint children should receive appropriate resources, but so should all children.”