Professor says documents show state health department knew about blood lead levels in Flint

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FLINT (WJRT) - (12/21/15) - There are some harsh accusations coming from researchers credited with exposing high lead levels in Flint.

Professor Marc Edwards is claiming documents show the state health department knew about high blood lead levels - and lied to the public.

Edwards is saying that the state knew about elevated blood lead levels in children in July of this year, but it wasn't until three months later that they acknowledged the problem publicly.

That was after Hurley pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, went public with her research. It proved blood lead levels in kids were elevated following the switch to the Flint River.

Edwards used the Freedom of Information Act to try to get his hands on the state health department's research in September. He says they stonewalled him for months.

It wasn't until last Friday he finally got what he was asking for.

"They knew there was a problem with the water and instead, they released data that suggested that there was no problem whatsoever, so if you read the emails, it's very clear they are deliberately misleading people," Edwards said.

The following is the response from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

"The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has consistently provided information regarding the city of Flint and blood lead levels.

When initially looking at the citywide and county elevated blood lead level numbers, the increase appeared to be consistent with the routine seasonal fluctuation seen in the summer months. It wasn't until the Hurley report came out that our epidemiologists took a more in-depth look at the data by zip code, controlling for seasonal variation, and confirmed an increase outside of normal trends. As a result of this process, we have determined that the way we analyze data collected needs to be thoroughly reviewed. Additionally, Gov. Rick Snyder has created a Flint Water Task Force to review all city, state and federal responses and actions and is expected to make recommendations moving forward.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is focused on ensuring appropriate case management and follow up in Flint. Summary reports outlining blood lead level testing are posted online on a bi-weekly basis, and we work closely with local partners to fulfill data requests as we receive them."

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