Flint, Michigan, declares emergency; high lead levels in kids linked to tap water
When she saw the data, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was speechless. Looking at blood tests, she found an alarming spike in lead levels in the kids at her clinic.
And more worrying was the cause: It corresponded exactly to the city's cost-cutting decision to draw its tap water from the Flint River, instead of buying it from Detroit.
She tells As It Happens co-host Carol Off, "I haven't been able to sleep for about four weeks. It's physically jarring. It's just the worst thing that could happen to a population that's already suffering from so many obstacles."
Although officials originally dismissed her concerns, Flint has now declared a public health emergency -- and promised action. That will include better testing, and providing filters to clean the water.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha says the consequences for her young patients won't be known for years. She says lead exposure can cause "life-altering" problems for children, including learning disabilities.
"If you were to put something in a population to keep them down, it would be lead. And that is the last thing that these kids need," she says.