Dozens of people have been protesting Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan, some even marching in sub-zero temperatures, after his delayed response to the Flint Water Crisis. Many demonstrators say Snyder knew about the poisoned water supply for far too long before changing the source back to Detroit.
Hillary Clinton said during the last Democratic Debate that “every single American should be outraged. . . If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would have been action.”
Dr. Jon LaPook, chief medical correspondent for CBS News reports that children exposed to lead experience lower IQ scores, developmental delays and behavioral issues.
CBS spoke with Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He said:
The problem here is, no level of lead is safe. Even low levels of lead — especially if exposure to low levels continues over many months — is going to cause some degree of brain damage to at least some of the children who have been exposed. That’s a big deal.
Unfortunately, even after the exposure to lead is over, the effects are long-lasting, often permanent – with no known treatments or drugs that will reverse the damage.
Dr. Landrigan says of the children in Flint:
These children are going to be injured for life. They’re going to need remedial education, they’re going to need education enrichment programs. They’re kids who are going to be prevented from functioning at their full level.
Kids prevented from functioning at their full level so someone could save a few bucks.
While the Flint Water Crisis is absolutely horrible, poor children are no strangers to lead exposure.
According to the CDC there were over 105,000 children under the age of six in 2014 who tested positive for lead exposure in the United States. Most lead exposure is due to lead-based paint in homes built before 1978.
“Children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at the greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial or ethnic groups and those living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.”
In 2015, Chicago Tribune published an article regarding a doctor who followed a group of 300 individuals born in the 1970s, some of whom were exposed to lead as toddlers. Scans revealed permanent, devastating brain damage.
“The toxic metal had robbed them of gray matter in the parts of the brain that enabled people to pay attention, regulate emotions and control impulses. Lead also had scrambled the production of white matter that transmits signals between different parts of the brain, largely by mimicking calcium, an element that plays a critical role in brain development.”
Sure enough, researchers reported that not only did the children struggle more in school than peers not exposed to lead, they also committed crimes more frequently than their non-poisoned peers.
Kim Dietrich, a neuropsychologist involved in the research says:
What we found — and continue to find — is that lead sowed the seeds of their future. It isn’t conducive to behavior we associate with normal development, making smart decisions and success.
Yes, the people should be outraged. Government officials knew of these risks and they delayed. Any delay is inexcusable and now, these children of Flint will pay the price.
Watch the full report about the effects of lead poisoning via CBS News here:
Featured image via Flickr/grifo