Hurley doctors: Flint children 'exposed' to lead, but not 'poisoned'

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FLINT (WJRT) (5/23/2018) - Semantics with how doctors are classifying Flint children affected by the water crisis has Mayor Karen Weaver crying foul.

A group of doctors at Hurley Medical Center published an article in a professional medical journal using terminology calling children "lead exposed" instead of "lead poisoned" as a result of drinking tainted water.

One doctor who talked about the issue Tuesday said the terminology does not represent a change in the hospital's position on the water crisis.

But he pointed out the term "lead poisoned" does not accurately reflect what Flint children experienced, based on a study the doctors conducted.

However, Weaver issued a statement Tuesday evening, calling Hurley's terminology "disrespectful" and "unbelievably insensitive" to what the community experienced during the water crisis.

"Many still struggle to make the best decisions for their families each and every day due to the uncertainties as it relates to the long-term effects of lead in the water they and their children have consumed," she said. "I am personally offended by the decision a few Hurley doctors have made, because it minimizes the tragedy that Flint residents have experienced, through no fault of our own.”

Dr. Pamela Pugh, who is Weaver's chief public health adviser, said she is "fascinated" by the Hurley doctors' decision.

“This action by the doctors at Hurley appears to be purposefully misleading, or an attempt to detract attention from the decades of credible data that substantiates that there is absolutely no safe level of lead for children anywhere,” she said.

Pugh said the change in wording "does not negate the fact that children drank water poisoned with lead."

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