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Calling Flint kids “poisoned” is inaccurate and harmful, says UM pediatrician

children sitting on floor
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
"I think it's an unfair stigmatization, and it should be dropped because it is simply untrue," said Gómez. "

Were the children of Flint "poisoned?”

It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot in connection to the lead exposure caused by Flint’s improperly treated drinking water.

But in an opinion piece published in Sunday’s New York Times, Dr. Hernán Gómez and co-author Kim Dietrich argue that saying Flint's children have been poisoned "unjustly stigmatizes their generation."

Dr. Gómez is an associate professor with the University of Michigan, and an emergency medicine pediatrician and medical toxicologist with the Hurley Medical Center in Flint. He joined Stateside to discuss why he thinks the label "poisoned" does more harm than good. 

"To use the word 'lead poison' is to insinuate that the children of Flint are going to have less ability to go into professional degrees, less ability to perhaps enter college, increased criminal behavior, in a town that already has increased violent criminal activity," said Gómez. "So I think it's unfair. I think it's an unfair stigmatization, and it should be dropped because it is simply untrue."

Listen above to hear Gómez discuss why it's innaccurate to say Flint children have been poisoned by lead, and how coverage of the crisis in Flint has ignored other lead exposure hot spots in the state. 

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