FLINT (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder approved over $9 million in aid for the city of Flint, following confirmation of lead contamination in some households and schools and lead poisoning in hundreds of children as a result of a cost-cutting move to switch Flint residents from the Detroit water supply.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program Hurley Medical Center,  is credited with bringing the contamination to the attention of state health officials last year.

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Hanna-Attisha authored a study which demonstrated an increase in the percentage of children with elevated blood levels in the city of Flint after the switch to Flint River water.

“We checked and we double-checked and we confirmed – we ran our research a bazillion different ways – and the numbers didn’t lie and it was ethical and moral responsibility as scientists and pediatricians to say something and we did,” said Dr. Hanna-Attisha.

It’s hard not to hold some body or some agency or some thing accountable so another community doesn’t have to go through this she says.

The results — which are based on blood samples drawn from 1,746 children ages 5 and younger — were even more frightening in Flint neighborhoods where Virginia Tech researchers testing water from nearly 300 homes found the highest levels of lead in the city’s water. Analysis of blood samples from children living in those same high-risk areas showed that the number of kids with elevated levels of lead in their blood jumped from 2.5 percent to 6.3 percent reported the Metro Times.

While she believes the quality lapse was unintentional, Hanna-Attisha says an investigation into possible negligence on the part of state health officials should take place.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, of Flint, says the move, approved Thursday by Governor Rick Snyder — should only be a first step.

“I think it’s a first good step in helping to solve this public health crisis – this water crisis in our community and long-term confidence needs to be built in the water and also the government’s ability to protect them and I think that’s the long-term goal now,” says Sen. Ananich.

In March, the Flint council approved a resolution to reconnect the city to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, according to the Flint Journal. But both emergency manager Jerry Ambrose and Mayor Dayne Walling spoke out against purchasing Lake Huron water from Detroit again.

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As recently as September 24, the Synder Administration was denying there was any problem with the levels of lead in the drinking water supply for Flint residents according to MLIVE.

By the end of September Snyder admitted that the consequences of using the Flint River for the city’s drinking water weren’t “fully understood,” Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday as he again pledged to take action later this week in response to significant levels of lead.

Separately, The Flint Journal reported that Snyder’s office worked with a donor  to arrange 1,500 water filters for Flint, which were distributed free to people by churches. The governor’s involvement was never publicized, the newspaper reported, because pastors said they were told to stay quiet.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is we found there are probably things that weren’t as fully understood when that switch was made,” Snyder told reporters in Lansing, referring to Flint dropping out of the Detroit water system while the pipeline was being built.

The decision was made while a Snyder-appointed emergency manager was running city government in Flint. It was the first time in over 50 years that the city was not using water from Detroit.

“Obviously this wasn’t deliberate, but it was preventable,” says Dr. Hanna-Attisha, “it’s mind-boggling the impact this has made — this would never happen in Ann Arbor or Grosse Pointe or Bloomfield Hills. We have so many disparities here in Flint from poverty to violence. Our pre-existing lead poisoning rates were already higher than out of the city and this exposure just widened that disparity.”

The real tragedy, says Hanna-Attisha, is that no matter what actions officials take now, the affects of those who have been poisoned with lead will last a lifetime.



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