An estimated 2.5% of children ages one to five suffer from lead exposure in the U.S. The Flint Water Crisis is making it worse.
WHAT HAPPENED IN FLINT, MICHIGAN?
The Flint Water Crisis began in April 2014, when the source of the residents’ drinking water was changed from water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to the Flint River. At the time, the Flint River didn’t have advanced infrastructure to clean the water before residents drank it. It’s estimated that 6,000 to 12,000 children will experience serious health problems due to drinking that water.
In October 2014, the Flint General Motors plant stopped using tap water because its high chlorine levels rusted the truck engines. That puts the water crisis into perspective. If Flint water can damage heavy-duty car parts, imagine how badly it can hurt our children.
HOW IT’S STILL AFFECTING CHILDREN
These days, Michigan’s environmental authorities are stressing the importance of installing water filters and conducting ongoing tests to check for lead. That’s a great plan, but what about the children who’d drunk contaminated water during the beginning stages of the crisis?
Studies have shown that exposure to lead at a young age causes irreversible effects into adulthood. Flint kids who were exposed to it in their water may see the effects of lead toxicity for the rest of their lives. Lead, one of the ten chemicals the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies as chemicals of major public health concern, attacks children’s brains and nervous systems, often leaving them with long-term health problems like high blood pressure and kidney damage.
Studies also show that children’s exposure to lead can cause a decline in IQ in adulthood. Lead interrupts brain growth, so children aren’t able to learn and retain information at the same rate their unexposed counterparts can.
TOYS MAY EXPOSE CHILDREN TO LEAD
Drinking water isn’t the only way kids can become exposed to lead.
Parents should ensure their kids’ toys are made with lead-free paint, check for any recalls and warnings, and try to purchase toys from reputable companies. Other possibly lead-containing objects to keep an eye on are clothes and costume jewelry.
The only way to accurately test toys for lead is to send them into a certified laboratory for testing. That’s not convenient by any means, so parents should be proactive in making sure that their children don’t come into contact with potentially toxic objects.
A short time ago, the dangers of lead weren’t fully recognized, so common materials, like paint, soil, and batteries, were made with lead. Families that live in homes built before the 1978 lead paint ban should have their paint, plumbing, and soil tested for lead.
This infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how harmful lead can be to a child's health, as well as steps families can take to make sure their homes are lead-safe.
WE CAN HELP YOU
If your child suffered lead exposure that affects their quality of life, contact one of our lead poisoning attorneys to discuss your child's legal rights and options. We practice in all 50 states- including Michigan- and can travel to you for a free consultation. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you don't pay us anything unless we win you a settlement.