In the face of the water contamination crisis currently afflicting the city of Flint, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a $28 million appropriations bill last Friday to provide Flint with the resources needed to address the public health crisis. The House and Senate unanimously approved the measure earlier last week. The $28 million appropriation, an additional allocation out of the 2016 fiscal year, includes: $2.7 million for the Michigan Department of Education to provide additional school nurses, “Early On” monitoring for kids 0-3, and nutritious snacks for elementary school children; $5.8 million for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for testing and other costs; and $15.5 million to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Resources for field operations, nutrition support (including WIC services) and the purchase of bottled water and filters.
As most of you probably know, nutrition can play a critical role in preventing childhood lead poisoning. Nutrients like iron, calcium, and Vitamin C help minimize the amount of lead that is absorbed and stored in the bones. For this reason, WIC is an important player in helping to prevent or at least mitigate the effects of the contaminated water on Flint’s children. WIC also plays a role by providing nutrition education specific to lead exposure and by referring children who have been identified as having elevated blood lead levels or being at risk for lead poisoning to local primary care providers.
Flint’s water became contaminated with lead as a result of the city switching drinking water sources in April 2014. An unknown number of children have been exposed, although as of last Wednesday, local officials said they had identified about 200 children with elevated blood lead levels since the Flint water crisis was exposed last fall.