The children of Flint, Mich., are expected to be exposed to even more lead contamination over the next few months—not because of the city's drinking water but because of the high levels of lead in the soil that they will inhale during the dry summer months, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Richard Sadler, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at Michigan State University, described the cyclical seasonal pattern to the Free Press on Wednesday. Sadler, the Free Press notes, is the co-author of a study concerning lead poisoning in Flint that was published this week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
What he described does not bode well for residents of Flint, even as the lead levels in Flint's drinking water are expected to diminish. Sadler found that lead levels in the blood of children in the city "display consistent peaks in the third quarter of each year"; he also said that the problem is worse in the center of the city than in the outskirts.
According to the report, the pattern of spikes in blood lead levels existed before the city switched its drinking water source in April 2014 to the Flint River, and it is one of the reasons that the state's Department of Health and Human Services says it didn't immediately catch that something unusual was happening.
"It's easy to draw that relationship to water being the culprit," Sadler said, when the real cultprit this summer could be soil lead levels. He pointed to the need for Flint to explore ways to remove lead-contaminated soil.
According to a spokeswoman for the department, Jennifer Eisner, officials are aware of the issue.
"Blood lead levels do not tell us the source of the exposure, which may pose certain challenges in Flint as we work to rebuild trust in the water system," Eisner told the Free Press in an email. "It’s important that we communicate clearly about all potential lead exposures—including water, soil and paint—to promote public health statewide."
Read more at USA Today.