More than 35 groups, including CWLA, signed onto a letter circulated by the Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA) calling on Senate leaders to move legislation that would provide emergency financial assistance to address the lead poisoning crisis now confronting Flint, Michigan. Michigan’s senators are attempting to get the money to help address the lead poising that has been inflicted on families and their children when that city attempted to switch their fresh water supply starting in 2014. The letter said in part,
“As organizations representing advocates for America’s children and families, we write in support of the children of Flint, Michigan, as they grapple with urgent infrastructure and health needs concerning their water contamination situation.” The letter also stated: “The urgency of this situation requires that there be no delay caused by arguments over offsets; nor should other human needs programs that assist our nation’s children and families be cut to pay for addressing this crisis.”
The bill which might be attached to an energy bill is hung-up at least in part on the issue of whether it must be offset by cuts in other areas. In instances where the federal government has provided disaster relief for earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters the funding is usually not offset. The efforts by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) would assist in immediate infrastructure funding relief and help fund studies on the long-term impacts of lead exposure.
Exposure to lead can result in a variety of effects on young children including deficits in general intellectual functioning, ability to sustain attention on tasks, organization of thinking and behavior, speech, language comprehension, learning and memory, fine motor skills, reduced problem solving and poor behavioral self-control. The long term impact can be felt into adulthood. According to the World Health Organization lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones and is stored in the teeth and bones. Children absorb 4 to 5 times as much ingested lead than adults from the very same source. The EPA sets lead levels of 15 parts per billion as acceptable although medical officials will say no level is good. In Flint they determined that levels were reaching 27 parts per billion compared to 2.7 per billion in nearby Detroit.