Last week, the mayor of Flint, Michigan, declared a state of emergency after high amounts of lead were found in the city’s water supply.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) stated in a recent report that 27 children with blood lead levels higher that five micrograms per decilitre have been identified since October 1. The amount is much higher than what would be normal for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2014, the city started drawing water from the Flint River, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said. However, because the water was not properly treated, it absorbed lead from the pipes. Then, Flint changed back to its former water supply – the Detroit water supply which contains anti-corrosive chemicals. Unfortunately, the water will still continue to contain high levels of lead until the chemicals take effect.
In 2007, Dr. Alex Kemper, a professor of paediatrics and community and family medicine at Duke University in North Carolina, conducted a study on ways to prevent lead poisoning. Forty-two of the forty-five local public health departments in Michigan participated in the study. According to Dr. Kemper, 74 percent of them stated that lead poisoning is not addressed properly within the area.
Thanks to initiatives set up by state and federal governments, elevated blood levels of lead in children dropped from 13 percent in 2007, to 3.9 percent in 2013.
Lead can be extremely dangerous even at low levels, because it can affect a lot of cellular processes. Dr. Kemper said that certain medications that remove lead from the body are only used on patients with high lead levels.
According to Germaine Vazquez, a representative for the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, effects of lead exposure in children cannot be corrected, and there is no safe blood lead level when it comes to kids.
The Genesee County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are working together to help those with elevated blood levels of lead.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that in the United States, kids in approximately 4 million households are exposed to elevated levels of lead, which usually occur due to environmental contaminates like gasoline and paint.
A research – published in 1992 in the journal American Academy of Paediatrics – found that children’s IQs were affected by high blood lead levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead poisoning can also halt the production of haemoglobin, and can damage the kidneys.
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