Two and a half years ago, Michigan state officials decided to cut costs by sourcing the City of Flint’s water supply from the Flint River rather than paying to pipe it in from Detroit. A few months later, the water flowing from the faucets in many homes became discolored and smelly, and there were increasing complaints of skin rashes, hair loss, memory problems, aches and pains, and other unexplained symptoms. Despite repeated reassurances that the water met safety standards, residents were concerned.
Lee-Anne Walters, a mother of four, was convinced that the water was making her children sick. Frustrated by the bureaucratic runaround, she had a water sample tested by environmental engineers at Virginia Tech. The lead level was 13,200 parts per billion (ppb)—880 times the 15 ppb deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and high enough to be classified as hazardous waste!
Serious Blunders Harmed Residents
Further investigation revealed that the city had failed to take standard anti-corrosion measures, and the highly corrosive Flint River water had damaged the city’s pipes, leaching iron and lead into the water. After more than a year of stonewalling, officials restored the original Detroit water supply. A state of emergency was declared, water testing was instituted, residents were supplied with bottled water and filters—and nine city and state officials have been charged with misconduct, neglect, and conspiracy for their roles in this crisis.
Things are getting better. However, as of last month, the water still isn’t safe. Lead was detected in the water of half of the homes most recently tested, residents are encouraged to drink only bottled water or filtered tap—and thousands of adults and children, including Lee-Anne’s family, have been exposed to toxic levels of lead.
Lead Exposure: Suffer Little Children
Lead exposure is a very real problem. This toxic metal is a potent neurotoxin that damages the central nervous system and causes growth and developmental delays, learning disabilities, impaired speech and coordination, lower IQ, and behavioral problems including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and violence. Children and unborn babies are particularly vulnerable because of their small size and rapidly growing brains and nervous systems, but no one is immune to the toxic effects of lead exposure.
The federal government has pledged millions of dollars to expand childhood interventions such as Head Start programs, new classrooms, and longer school years on the theory that early education will help kids with learning disabilities caused by lead exposure.
It’s one thing to offer educational and interventional services to help lead-damaged children deal with lower IQs and behavioral problems. Eliminating the need for such services by removing lead with chelation therapy and giving kids a shot at normal development is another thing altogether. Failing to offer medical treatment or at least inform patients and parents about chelation is simply unconscionable.
What Is Chelation Therapy?
Chelation therapy has been the gold standard for treating lead poisoning for 70 years. Intravenous or oral chelating compounds such as EDTA, DMSA, or DMPS form a tight chemical bond with lead and other heavy metals and makes them water-soluble so they can be excreted in the urine. When administered by an experienced physician, chelation is a safe, effective, FDA-approved treatment that is universally acknowledged as the only way to remove toxic heavy metals from the body.
Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends chelation therapy to reduce lead only when a child’s blood level is over 44 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), which is life-threateningly high. At the same time, the agency states that levels as low as 5 mcg/dL are cause for concern but only recommends avoiding further exposure.
This makes no sense. The EPA states, “Research shows that blood lead levels of 10 mcg/dL… in young children can result in lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and antisocial behavior. However, there currently is no demonstrated safe concentration of lead in blood, and adverse health effects can occur at lower concentrations. If caught early, these effects can be limited by reducing exposure to lead or through medical treatment.”
Chelation Therapy: Help Beyond Flint
The tragic consequences of high lead exposure extend far beyond Flint, Michigan. Unsafe levels of lead have been found in communities across the country. Unlike most pollutants, lead does not break down over time. Although bans have been in place for decades, lead-based paint is still found in many old buildings, and much of the 7 million tons burned in leaded gasoline over 60 years remains in the soil that we grow our food in, walk and play on, and track into our homes.
Millions of Americans, including 2.5 percent of children ages 1-5, have elevated blood lead levels. The number affected is actually much higher. Lead moves in and out of the brain, kidneys, liver, lungs, and other soft tissues, and 90-95 percent ends up in the bones. Therefore, blood tests measure only recent exposure and are not indicative of the true toxic burden.
Toxicity can also occur long after lead exposure has ended. Most adults have significant lead stores in our bones—stores that may be mobilized as bone is lost during aging, menopause, pregnancy and lactation, hyperthyroidism, chronic disease, or calcium deficiency.
In addition to its neurological effects, lead damages tissues and organs throughout the body and is associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, arterial and circulatory problems, kidney dysfunction, gastrointestinal illness, mood and memory disorders, infertility, and miscarriages. But chelation therapy can help. At Whitaker Wellness, we use IV chelation to effectively eliminate angina, lower blood pressure, restore blood flow to affected limbs, help heal diabetic ulcers, and improve kidney function. It’s a remarkable therapy.
The Right to Be Informed
I consider it the obligation of officials and medical professionals to inform patients of all treatment options—especially chelation therapy—and I do not believe that is happening in Flint, Michigan.
My thoughts keep returning to Lee-Anne Walters, the take-charge mother who was instrumental in drawing attention to the Flint crisis. She’s concerned about brain development, cognitive deficits, and other lead exposure-induced problems in all of her kids but especially five-year-old Gavin, who now has speech problems and poor appetite, sleeps a lot, and weighs just 35 pounds compared to his twin brother’s 53 pounds. Surely Lee-Anne of all people deserves to be told about a therapy that could help.
Learn More About Chelation Therapy
Visit www.flintwaterstudy.org to learn more about the dangers of lead exposure and the Flint fiasco. To view lead exposure risk in your community, visit lead exposure risk map. For more information on chelation therapy, including referrals to experienced physicians, visit www.acam.org. To schedule chelation therapy at Whitaker Wellness, call 866-944-8253, or fill out this form for a consultation to see how chelation could help restore your health and vitality.