Early findings grim on the health of Flint kids after water crisis – 60 Minutes – CBS News

5July 2020

You may keep in mind the photos from the water crisis 6 years earlier in Flint, Michigan. Numerous mad citizens holding up bottles of rust-colored water and demanding answers. Months of protests were waved off by officials who rejected anything was incorrect. The turning point came when a local pediatrician discovered conclusive proof that the kids of Flint were being exposed to high levels of lead in their water and prompted the state to state an emergency situation. Now, that very same physician is working to fix a secret that still stresses parents in Flint: what lasting damage did the water do to their kids? As we first reported in March, her initial findings were worse than she feared. However we start with the tradition of Flint's water crisis.

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Cars line up for mineral water in Flint, Michigan. CBS News When a week, numerous automobiles line up for mineral water at the Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Flint. Sandra Jones is in command. She is a pastor's other half with the voice of a four-star general.

Jones keeps the cars moving and the water coming. Each family is allowed four cases of water. On this day, they handed out 36,000 bottles. Sharyn Alfonsi: It just strikes me. It's been five years

and you're still doing this. Sandra Jones: Five years. And– and the thing about it is it's not lightening up. I could see it if it was brightening. But it isn't.

It is not. The state stopped distributing bottled water two years

back because it stated the water is safe. Sandra

Jones relies on donations of water. Sharyn Alfonsi: What's it been like? Larry Marshall: It's been kinda hard … Larry Marshall was 2nd in line. The widowed dad of 4 got here at 5 a.m. He

‘s been waiting five hours for water. Larry Marshall: Water should be a fundamental need that– we should not have to wait or stand in line for, you know. This is not a developing nation. However we're living like one.

Marshall, like numerous in Flint, still refuses to consume faucet water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: And if they pertain to you the city or the state and they state, “You're consuming water's safe. Are you gon na think them?Larry Marshall: No. They lie so much and we know they lie, and I– when they say something, it's like– talking to the wind, you know. I don't believe nothing they say. None of the politicians, none. Flint, once a flourishing center of the American auto market was almost bankrupt back in 2014. Authorities wanted to save cash by changing the city water source from the Great Lakes to the Flint River. Almost right away, citizens began seeing something wasn't right. The water was rust colored and many people had rashes. However Michigan's department of ecological quality and the city firmly insisted the water in Flint is safe. Later, a state investigation found those officials hid the reality that the river water was not treated with chemicals that would prevent the pipes from wearing away. So, for months the water ate away at Flint's old pipes, releasing lead into locals'faucet water. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: They were poisoned. I mean they were poisoned by this water. They were all exposed to hazardous water. < figure class="embed embed– type-image is-image embed– float-none embed– size-medium"

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data-ads=””> Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha defended answers to the city's water crisis

. CBS News Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician in Flint, who her patients call” Dr. Mona.” Dr. Mona is a little a superhero herself here because she was the very first to connect the water to high levels of lead in the kids of Flint. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So within a couple of months of– of being on this water, General Motors, which was born in Flint, and still has plants in Flint, observed that this water,

our drinking water, was corroding their engine parts. Let's pause. Like, the drinking (LAUGH)water was rusting engine parts. So they were enabled to go back to Great Lakes water. Sharyn Alfonsi: Didn't anyone at that point say,”If it's corroding an engine, possibly this shouldn't be entering into our bodies, into our kids?”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I imply that ought to have resembled smoke alarm bells. Like, warnings. Sharyn Alfonsi: So what did it

take before your– it– your eyes opened about this? Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yeah. It– it– it was the word lead. Sharyn Alfonsi: Because the word lead, when you're a physician or a pediatrician signals what in your brain? Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: There is no safe level of lead. We're never supposed to expose a population or a child to lead. Due to the fact that we can't do much about it. It is an irreversible neurotoxin. It assaults the core of what it means to be you, and effects cognition– how children believe. Actually drops IQ levels. It impacts behavior, causing things like developmental hold-ups. And it has these life-altering consequences.

In 2015, Dr. Mona and a coworker began digging through blood test records of 1,700 Flint kids. Including the kids she sees at the Hurley Children's Clinic.

The non-profit clinic serves most of Flint's kids. The city is 53% black and has one of the greatest hardship rates in the country.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So we took a look at the kids's blood lead levels before the water switch. And we compared them to the children's blood lead levels after the water switch. And in the areas where the water lead levels were the greatest, in those parts of the city, we saw the greatest boost in kids's lead levels.

Armed with the first medical proof that kids were being exposed to lead from the water, Dr. Mona did something questionable. She quickly held an interview to share the blood test study, before other physicians evaluated her work.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So it was a little an academic no-no. Type of a type of scholastic disobedience. But I l–

Sharyn Alfonsi: And you knew that?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I– I understood that. But, like, however there was no choice– there was no other way I was going to wait to have this research vetted.

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Samples of Flint's drinking water proved to be filled with disease-causing bacteria, carcinogens, and lead. CBS News 2 weeks later on, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ordered the water changed back to the Great Lakes and declared a state of emergency.

Rick Snyder at State of the State: I say tonight as I have before I am sorry and I will repair it. However the damage was done. Dr. Mona approximates 14,000 kids in Flint under the age of six may have been exposed to

lead in their water. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I never ever need to have had to do the research study that actually utilized the blood of our children as detectors of environmental contamination. 3 years after the crisis started, the portion of third graders in Flint who passed Michigan's standardized literacy test dropped from

41%to 10%. Kenyatta Dotson: I'm very concerned about my kids. And not only my children, however I'm worried about the kids of Flint.

Kenyatta Dotson is still fearful of the water, despite the fact that the state is spending more than $300 million to repair the water supply.

The city promised to replace all 12,000 supply lines that might have been polluted with lead by last fall. Now, they say the work will not be done up until summer season.

Dotson states she and her daughters will continue to use bottled water for cooking and brushing their teeth.

Kenyatta Dotson: I require time to come back to a location where I feel whole again.

Sharyn Alfonsi: You don't feel entire today?

Kenyatta Dotson: Oh no.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Would this have occurred in a rich, white residential area?

Kenyatta Dotson: Maybe it would've occurred in– in a rich, white suburban area. Would it have continued for as long as it has? I do not believe so.

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Flint resident Gladyes Williamson (C) holds a bottle full of polluted water , and a clump of

her hair, together with Jessica Owens (R), holding a child bottle full of polluted water, throughout a news conference after going to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Flint, Michigan water crisis on Capitol Hill February 3, 2016 in Washington, DC. Getty We discovered lots of parents in Flint still bathe their young children with bottled water– first warmed on the stove then brought to the tub. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: When I'm in clinic– nearly every day– a mommy asks me, “Is my kid gon na be fine”? So that's a primary type of stress and anxiety and– and issue today–

Sharyn Alfonsi: How do you respond to that?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Oh, I– I take a seat. I sometimes hold their hand. And I assure my clients and their moms and dads simply as I would prior to the crisis … to keep doing everything that you're expected to be doing to promote your kids's development.

In January of 2019, she introduced the Flint registry, the initially detailed take a look at the thousands of kids exposed to lead in Flint. The goal of the federal and state-funded program is to track the health of those kids and get them the aid they need.

The windows registry refers numerous kids to experts who conduct 8 hours of neuro-psychological evaluations of their behavior and development.

Dr. Mona shared her preliminary findings with 60 Minutes.

Prior to the crisis, about 15% of the kids in Flint needed unique education services. However of the 174 kids who went through the comprehensive neuro-exams, professionals determined that 80% will require aid for a language, learning or intellectual condition.

Sharyn Alfonsi: What are you gon na do?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So there's not much we can do. So there's no magic pill. There's no remedy. There's no remedy. We can't take away this direct exposure. But unbelievable science has actually taught us that there's a lot we can do to promote the health and advancement of kids which's precisely what we're doing.

Through the computer system registry, already 2,000 Flint kids who were exposed to lead have actually been connected to services such as speech and occupational therapy, which some may require for the rest of their lives.

Federal State Of Emergency Declared In Flint, Michigan Over Contaminated Water Supply
The City of Flint Water Plant is lit up by moonlight on January 23, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Brett Carlsen/ Getty Images Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: But we also understood that our research study, our science, this data and facts was likewise an underestimation of the exposure.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Why ignored?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Because we were taking a look at blood lead data done as part of these monitoring programs, which are done at the ages of 1 and 2. Lead in water impacts a younger age. It affects the coming.

To identify that impact, Dr. Mona turned to an unique method established by Dr. Manish Arora at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. He takes a look at primary teeth. Primary teeth start to grow in utero.Dr.
Manish Arora: And similar to development rings in trees, every day a tooth forms a ring. And anything that we're exposed to in our diet, what we consume, what we breathe, what we drink gets caught in those development rings.

A laser cuts through the tooth to evaluate whether lead is embedded in the growth rings of teeth. Dr. Mona has sent out teeth from 49 Flint kids to be evaluated. This was a scan on the tooth of a child who was 6 months old when the water source changed in Flint.

Dr. Manish Arora: As we hit that six month mark where the–

Sharyn Alfonsi: Oh, my gosh–

Dr. Manish Arora:– water– the supply of water was change, you can see how–

Sharyn Alfonsi: Look at that.

Dr. Manish Arora: You can see how the lead levels go up and then they just keep– keep increasing as more and more lead's entering the body.

Sharyn Alfonsi: It shoots directly.

Dr. Manish Arora: Exactly.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Wow.

For the very first time, researchers can pinpoint to the day, even prior to birth, when a child was exposed to lead from the water and at what levels. Those early years are an important time for brain development.

As we were following Dr. Mona's operate in Flint, another American city was forced to hand out cases of water. Evaluating on the drinking water in Newark, New Jersey, discovered lead levels 4 times higher than the federal limitation. In some places, greater than Flint. Newark authorities were alerted about it's water more than two years earlier.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Newark, New Jersey is like living Flint all over once again. If we can not guarantee that all kids have access to safe drinking water, not simply fortunate kids, but all kids have access to safe drinking water. That's simply one issue. Like, who are we?

Sharyn Alfonsi: This is not isolated to Flint–

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: This is– this is an everywhere story. This is an America story.

Last month, we made another see to Flint to check in with Sandra Jones.

She was still in command despite temperature levels in the single digits. Hundreds in Flint are still pertaining to her church car park for their weekly supply of water, more than five years after the crisis began.

Produced by Guy Campanile and Lucy Hatcher. Broadcast partner, Cristina Gallotto. Modified by Matt Richman.Source: cbsnews.com

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