Soil could cause lead levels to rise in Flint kids


The pattern existed before the Flint water crisis, and is one of the reasons officials in the Department of Health and Human Services say they didn’t immediately recognize that something unusual was happening when blood lead levels in Flint children began to spike after the April 2014 switch to the Flint River as the city’s drinking water source. In fact, the spike in the summer of 2014 was significantly higher than the spike experienced in Flint in previous recent summers, as Hurley Medical Centerpediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha eventually demonstrated to resistant state officials, around Oct. 1, 2015.

Just as it confused state officials, the cyclical pattern could lead to public confusion if, as expected, tests show lead levels are rising in Flint children while officials are declaring Flint’s water again safe to drink, said Sadler. He worked with Hanna-Attisha on a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health about the spike in blood lead levels caused by Flint’s switch to the Flint River as its source of drinking water.

“It’s easy to draw that relationship to water being the culprit,” when the issue this summer could be lead in the soil, Sadler said Wednesday. Officials should find that the increase in blood lead levels this summer is lower than it was in the summers of 2014 and 2015, when residents were drinking Flint River water that was not properly treated with corrosion-control chemicals, he said.



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