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People exposed to Flint's lead-tainted drinking water can now sign up for registry

steve carmody
Michigan Radio/NPR

Michigan State University and Flint officials are kicking off a campaign to get people exposed to the city’s lead-tainted water to sign up for a special registry.

Tens of thousands of people who drank Flint tap water since 2014 have likely been exposed to lead.

The Flint Registrybeing launched this week is a way to connect people with resources aimed at minimizing the negative health effects of lead, as well as programs promoting wellness.

The registry, that will formally open in September, is based on a template similar to one set up in the wake of the Sept. 11th attacks. The registry is for anyone exposed to Flint’s tainted tap water, not just Flint residents.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha hopes to get people to sign up during the registry’s pre-enrollment period which begins this week. 

“The pre-enrollment period is another chance for the people of Flint to tell us what they want,” says Dr. Hanna-Attisha.

Marie Herron is among the first to sign-up.   The Flint mother of five says her children did test with elevated blood lead levels.

“My kids…they’re not just a number…they’re people. And they count,” says Herron.

Herron says there is a “staggering” amount of resources that people can reach through the registry.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver noted that a lot of effort has gone into securing funding for a wide variety of resources to help people recover from the water crisis. 

“We don’t want anyone to say that we fought for these resources and people aren’t using them and taking advantage of them,” says Weaver.  

But many Flint residents remain distrustful in the wake of the crisis. Some expressed fears that the registry is a way for researchers to ‘experiment’ or ‘track’ Flint residents.   

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha wants to assure people the registry is intended to help.

“This is not research. We are not out there to observe,” says Hanna-Attisha, “We are not out there to see ‘what lead does.’ We know what lead does. We know the consequences of sitting back and doing nothing.”

The registry is being paid for with a four-year, $14.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Michigan State University is developing the Flint Registry in partnership with Flint residents, the city of Flint, the Greater Flint Health Coalition, and others.    

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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