State releases first Flint blood-lead report



The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday released its first report from blood lead testing in Flint.

Since October first the state has tested 1,361 people, 30 have shown elevated blood-lead levels.

Lead is a neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous for children. Lead poisoning can cause permanent mental and physical impairment.

Jennifer Eisner is with MDHHS. She said the state is working on gathering information, but they’re not ready to draw conclusions.

“We need to look at this data over time and the important part from the public health standpoint is to make sure we’re doing follow-ups and case management and that’s being done at the local level but we’re absolutely supporting our partners at the Genesee County Health Department.”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician that did the original child lead testing on Flint children that helped expose the water crisis.

She said the state testing is good, but it doesn’t show the full risk since testing was done after most people stopped drinking the water and lead only stays in the blood for a month or two.

“It’s great that the kids being tested now have lower levels but we have no idea how high those levels were in the past, so it doesn’t comment on past exposure.”

Eisner said the goal is to gain more information and help people who have been exposed.

“The intent of the report is not to draw conclusions, and definitely not at this point,” Eisner said. “What we want to do is identify those individuals who do have elevated blood lead levels and insure that they’re getting follow-up care and that’s what we’re working to do with the Genesee County Health Department.”

Dr. Hanna-Attisha said the state has to earn back the trust of the people of Flint before the full scope of the water crisis can be determined

“I think everything that is released from the state it’s gonna be hard to convince anybody, whether it’s health data or water testing data, of its accuracy because there was this long period where they were getting information that everything was fine, everything was fine, when everything was not fine.”

The full state report: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3313_3675_73946—,00.html