State Monitoring Lead Levels In Kids

Posted: 6:35 PM, Jan 30, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-30 18:35:14-05

Children in Flint have been exposed to high levels of lead since early 2014, but at this point, it's not certain how high. The state health department says none of the test results have shown toxic levels.

However, the state is closely monitoring every child under age six as if they've been exposed.

Flint resident Lucia Chapman says she is worried about the effect of the lead on her body for her and her four grandkids.

Younger kids are the state's priority right now.

Teams of doctors have been testing their blood levels since April 2014.

Dr. Eden Wells of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says "Lead only remains in the blood for about 28 days. So if I test a child now, and they come out negative, that kiddo could've been exposed and had lead in their system over the last 18 months and frankly did and we're just not seeing it right now."

So every child in Flint is being treated as if they've been exposed since the beginning.

In the short term, says Wells, "There are nurses, trained nurses and investigators who will follow up on every one of those cases with their doctors to make sure traces of lead are removed from the child's environment."

Filters will be installed and bottled water will be handed out.

In the long term Dr. Wells says there are ways to remove the potential life-long effect of lead, through education such as developmental screening, early educational language stimulation, and social interactions.

A change in diet can also help.

"Calcium and iron, if you take that, the body will preferably take in the calcium and iron which is good for it and not take up the lead for the stomach," says Dr. Wells.

Building up nutritional levels now can help build an immunity to any future exposure to lead.

Dr. Wells said a solid public healthcare infrastructure will help the city after emergency teams leave.

Since 2014, 5,300 children under the age of six have had their blood lead level tested.

186 of them have tested positive for more than five micrograms of lead as of last Friday.