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State of Emergency in Flint, Michigan After Children Poisoned With Lead from Tap Water


By Nicolas Peters, MD

It is almost too horrible to be true. In an effort to save money, Flint, Michigan switched its water supply from Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014. Not only did the river water contain high levels of copper and trihalomethanes, a chlorine byproduct linked to cancer, it also contained high amount of lead.[1] And now 1000s of children are poisoned with lead and other brain toxins.

A study released in September showed the proportion of children with above-average levels of lead has nearly doubled since the city began using the Flint River water.[2] But no one wants to have average lead levels. The WHO and CDC both agree no known level of lead exposure is safe.[3],[4]

In October, toxic levels of lead were found in the water at three schools in Flint. One school had levels more than six times the federal safety standard. Flint resumed using the less toxic Detroit water system later that month. Unfortunately, by that point thousands of children had already been exposed.

For months families have been complaining about skin lesions, hair loss, high blood pressure, vision loss, and depression. Now a class-action federal lawsuit has been filed against the Governor Snyder, the state, the city, and 13 other officials, claiming for more than 18 months they ignored evidence that the water from the Flint River contained extreme toxicity.

In a statement released by Mayor Karen Weaver, it states the lead poisoning "will result in learning disabilities and the need for special education and mental health services and an increase in the juvenile justice system."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead affects children by reducing IQ, shortening of attention span, resulting often in antisocial behavior and delayed progress in school. Lead also causes anemia, high blood pressure, kidney problems, toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible. “Even blood lead concentrations as low as 5 µg/dl, once thought to be a ‘safe level’, may result in decreased intelligence in children, behavioral difficulties and learning problems.” [5]

Once lead poisoning has occurred, chelation is the only proven treatment to remove lead from the body. Unfortunately, the CDC does not recommend chelation until blood lead levels are greater than 45 µg/dl,[6] even though they state, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”[7] Chelation therapy[8] is accomplished by utilizing a variety of oral and intravenous medications including 2,3 Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA, Succimer), Racemic-2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS), Penicillamine, Edetate Calcium Disodium (CaNa2EDTA).[9], [10] As a result of very similar chemical structure, vital minerals such as zinc, copper, and magnesium may also be removed during chelation. For this reason, it is recommended that people take a good mineral supplement to replace what they might be losing.

There have been 3 deaths associated with chelation in children.[11],[12] In each case, it was a medication administration error that caused the deaths. Magnesium disodium EDTA (Na2EDTA) was given instead of Calcium Disodium EDTA (CaNa2EDTA). Magnesium Disodium EDTA may cause unsafe low levels of calcium in the blood if given too quickly. The calcium form of EDTA is much safer, and is the only form which we use at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine. Under the close guidance of trained professionals, chelation is very safe, whether given intravenously (in the case of severe toxicity) or orally (if the toxicity is less severe).[13]

To read more about chelation therapy, click here.

To learn more about chelation therapy, call us at 480.418.0220 to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our practitioners.

[3] World Health Organization. Lead Poisoning and Health. Accessed 12/16/2015.

[4] National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services. Lead. Accessed 12/16/2015.

[5] World Health Organization. Lead Poisoning and Health. Accessed 12/16/2015.

[7] National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services. Lead. Accessed 12/16/2015.

[9] Lowry JA. Oral Chelation for Patients With Lead Poisoning. WHO. Accessed 12/16/2015.

[10] O’Malley GF, O’Malley R. Lead Poisoning (Plumbism). Merck Manual Professional Version. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Accessed 12/16/2015.

[11] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths Associated with Hypocalcemia from Chelation Therapy --- Texas, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, 2003—2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 55(08);204-207

[12] Baxter AJ, Krenzelok EP. Pediatric fatality secondary to EDTA chelation. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2008 ec;46(10):1083-4.

[13] Lamas GA. Effect of Disodium EDTA Chelation Regimen on Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Previous Myocardial Infarction. JAMA. 2013;309(12):1241-1250.