I have been crusading tirelessly for Flint’s children, and a CBS 60 Minutes episode Sunday revealed exactly why it is so crucial to continue fighting this fight. Results from testing 174 children who drank the lead-filled water in Flint shows 140 of them will require special education services. Flint’s water supply has caused irreversible damage to Flint’s children and hurt its families badly, but the city didn’t do anything to prevent it.
As background, Flint was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2014 when city officials made the disastrous decision to switch the drinking water source from the Great Lakes to the Flint River. The state and city governments kept quiet about the fact that the anti-corrosive chemicals weren’t added to the river water. The lead from pipes leached into the water, turning it rust colored.
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It was a Flint pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attaisha, who first linked the elevated levels of lead in children to the drinking water. “There’s no safe level of lead,” she said in the CBS segment. “We’re never supposed to expose a population or a child to lead.” Dr. Mona, as she is known, and a colleague investigated blood reports from 1700 children and sounded the alarm about the dangerous lead levels in 2015. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency two weeks later.
Before the Flint water crisis, about 15 percent of the kids in Flint needed special education services. But now, specialists found that 80 percent of the 174 children who went through extensive neuro-exams will need a tremendous amount of help for a language, learning or intellectual disorder.
It is cruel that these children are suffering through no fault of their own, due to the reckless disregard of Flint’s authorities. It is for these children that I have taken on this case; so that they may have a better future, and that the people responsible pay for their grievous mistake
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I met with Dr. Mona as part of my Flint tour, where I heard from those affected by the crisis, as well as those working selflessly for the cause of Flint’s children. Dr. Mona has done outstanding work for Flint’s children, including launching the Flint Registry to keep track of the health of those affected. We need strong, compassionate people like her to ensure that Flint’s children are cared for and treated properly.
Flint lives matter, and it is people like Dr. Mona who stand strong with me in the fight to keep the national spotlight on Flint’s suffering and to get these families justice.