“We’re Using Kids as Lead Detectors”: 6 Cities in Michigan Have Even HIGHER Levels of Lead than Flint

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Top Tier Gear USA

Editor’s Note: Makes you wonder about the rest of the country, doesn’t it???


by Carey Wedler

As the nation rightly focuses on Flint’s ongoing water crisis, other cities in the state of Michigan face even higher levels of lead contamination. The alarming pervasiveness of potentially toxic drinking water extends across the United States.

The Detroit News reports that “Elevated blood-lead levels are seen in a higher percentage of children in parts of Grand Rapids, Jackson, Detroit, Saginaw, Muskegon, Holland and several other cities, proof that the scourge of lead has not been eradicated despite decades of public health campaigns and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to find and eliminate it.

Of over 7,000 children tested in the Highland Park and Hamtramck areas of Detroit in 2014, 13.5 percent tested positive for lead. Among four zip codes in Grand Rapids, one in ten children had lead in their blood. In Adrian and south-central Michigan, more than 12 percent of 640 children tested had positive results.

These overall numbers are higher than Flint’s, where Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha found lead in up to 6.3 percent of children in the highest-risk areas; while The Guardian reported Dr. Hanna-Attisha has also said the rate is as high at 15 percent in certain “hot spots,” the size of those samples was not listed. Even so, the overall figures across Michigan are lower than in previous years. In 2012, children tested across Michigan had lead in their blood at a rate of 4.5 percent, about five times less than the rate ten years prior, which reached an alarming 25 percent. In spite of the decrease in recent years, however, thousands of children in Michigan are still affected.

In 2013, that level sank to 3.9 percent and fell again to 3.5 percent in 2014. But that is still 5,053 children under age 6 who tested positive in 2014,” the Detroit News explained. “Each had lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter. (Though no amount is considered safe, 5 micrograms is the threshold that experts say constitutes a ‘much higher’ level than most children.)” One Detroit zip code had a rate of 20.8 percent of children who tested positive in 2014, and 20.3 percent the following year.

The outrage in Flint is especially warranted because of the pronounced effects of lead on children. Lead, a known toxin, is associated with both physical and mental ailments, and according to one Detroit teacher, has harmed the cognitive abilities of students.

Kieya Morrison, a veteran kindergarten teacher, who now teaches preschool, described a recent student known to have elevated levels of blood in her system. The girl experienced difficulties grasping simple cognitive tasks, like differentiating between a triangle and a square. “She had cognitive problems. She had trouble processing things,” Morrison said. “She could not retain any of the information.” The University of Michigan recently found a link between lead in children and lower academic test scores.

Michigan’s lead problem “…is still an issue. It’s not going away,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, lead levels are elevated across the United States. Anti-Media reported this week on Sebring, Ohio, where a similar lead crisis spawned official cover-ups. For years, discoveries of lead in public water supplies have made headlines, even if these finding were not national news. In 2008, the Los Angeles school district’s water supply was found to have levels of lead hundreds of times higher than the allowable. In 2015, officials could not guarantee they had adequately purified the water. In another example, in 2010, New York City tested 222 older homes known to have lead pipes, and found 14 percent had lead levels higher than the allowable limit.

Vox noted that in 2014, “Nine counties nationwide told the CDC that 10 percent or more of their lead poisoning tests came back positive. Four of them are in Louisiana, two in Alabama, and the rest scattered across West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Oklahoma.”

The problem extends beyond anecdotal cases or any specific region. As Huffington Post reports, millions of lead pipes — like the ones that contaminated the water in Flint — are still in service across the United States:

There are roughly 7.3 million lead service lines in the U.S., according to an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency, down from 10.5 million in 1988. Service lines are the pipes connecting water mains to people’s houses. They’re mostly found in the Midwest and Northeast.”

Jerry Paulson, emeritus professor of pediatrics and environmental health at George Washington University, told the Detroit News how common the problem is:

“This is a situation that has the potential to occur in however many places around the country there are lead pipes, he explained. “Unless and until those pipes are removed, those communities are at some degree of risk.”

Paul Haan of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, an organization that works to eliminate household hazards to improve children’s health, warns that the levels of lead in Michigan children’s blood continue to rise, citing weekly statewide reports from pediatricians. In spite of his efforts to help reduce contaminants, he pointed out a dismal flaw in the process:

The problem is,” he said, “we’re still using kids as lead detectors.”

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  • sunshine

    Maybe we should spend the money we waste on foreign wars, on fixing the pipes and other infrastructure here in the US? Although to be fair, I can’t imagine the last 30 years in Flint, being all that concerned with plumbing. It seems more like they’d have been spending money on bribes, kickbacks and putting it in their pockets. But that’s just a hunch.

    • BigGaySteve

      As long as you have affirmative action for jobs of people who hold up the sky you will get these problems

  • Mike

    If you think for one minute any government cares one iota about you or your health you are fooling yourself. Second, if you have city water you need filters to begin with to remove the toxic crap they treat the water with, and those same filters remove lead as well. RO filters are some of the best, they just produce a lot of waste water. If you don’t have a filter, you can make your own water distiller using an old pressure cooker and some copper tubing to help purify your water.

    • The waste water need not be wasted if you have a toilet or a lawn.
      Why would you want to replace lead with copper?

      • Mike

        The copper tubing was for the distiller. It can be replaced with other types of tubing. Also, why would I want to water my garden with lead filled water and contaminate my soil and from that point forward any food grown in it?

        • Do you use filtered water to wash your clothes?

          • Mike

            you do realize that lead can permeate the fabric and then when it comes in contact with your skin can be absorbed through it don’t you?

          • Yes, as well as the fact that all kinds of contaminants can be locked up in the remnants of the chemicals used to wash and condition the clothes, many of which are carcinogenic and poisonous to the dermis.

          • Mike

            yep, making your own works best.

          • As long as one realizes that all fabrics, especially synthetics, are wont to cling to most chemicals that are applied to them, such as dyes, and so, may carry all kinds of contaminants virtually forever, regardless of when they were first applied.

          • Mike

            True, that is why 100% cotton, hemp, or what ever natural fiber can be used should be used to make clothing.

          • It doesn’t matter. Contaminants are part of synthetics and natural fibers are no less likely to harbor them because chemicals stick to chemicals no matter where chemicals are found, and since everything that physically exists is chemical…

          • Mike

            The better you protect yourself the better off you will be, that was the whole point.

          • Why did you dance around the point?

          • Mike

            I didn’t dance around the point. The whole point of my original post about ways to filter out lead was safety and being better able to protect yourself. Of course if you don’t live in a bubble you are constantly exposed, there are just ways to lessen it.

          • I was following the thread, you weren’t?

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  • joseph

    Since city officials can be bought and results of testing can be manufactured it seems destroying the youth of the nation just never got any easier….I wonder who thought this up? Could it be that someone with money and hate has done this? Buying politicians is not a crime, or is it? Wouldn’t you like to think that Americans are for America but then that would displace the idea that money talks, BS walks…right? Your god is money and we can see from Flint just what the real cost is…and now, for the rest of the nation……and why should you complain about lead in the water? You’re already loaded up with sodium fluoride……

  • Reverend Draco

    “…about five times less than the rate ten years prior, which reached an alarming 25 percent.”

    So, currently, -100% of the kids tested had lead in their blood. . . 25 X 5 = 125 (5 times). 25 – 125 = -100 (less).

    That’s a good thing, right?


    Now. . . had you said “one-fifth as many,” you’d at least be in the neighborhood of the 4.5% figure bragged about.

    (for future reference – “X times fewer” or “X times less” is nonsense. . . something TIMES something else makes it LARGER not SMALLER)

  • It would be difficult to separate the exposure to lead from sources that they will admit to exposures from sources that they won’t, such as geoengineering.

  • Doug Crawford


  • Guillotine_ready

    Money spent to keep the water safe in Michigan is mis-allocated to people’s pockets. The taxes paid for roads result in the worst roads in the country.
    The people of Michigan are the victims of a corrupt government that taxes and steals for its own purposes and the people be damned.
    If the people responsible are not arrested there is no justice system in Michigan and the prisons need to be shut down, they are only for the regular people and not those who harm millions with their crimes.
    If Snyder is not charged with this crime along with his cohort city manager then Michigan is nowhere you will want to live any more. I live in Ann Arbor and I can tell you this is one arrogant and ignorant town, people are clueless and self absorbed to the point of insanity

  • The Pukes that Be will now become the Vomit that Was…..

  • Tatiana Covington

    Let’s see now, this means repiping the entire country…!