Flint Mother Gives Emotional Testimony of How Water Crisis Affected Her Children's Health

Leanne Walters said one of her sons hasn't grown in a year due to lead exposure.

ByJULIA JACOBO
March 29, 2016, 4:08 PM

— -- While addressing the Michigan Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency today, one mother tearfully described how much her children suffered from drinking the contaminated water, saying it took a "huge emotional toll" on her family.

Resident Leanne Walters, a mother of four, testified that her then 4-year-old twins asked her if they were going to die from lead poisoning after learning of the crisis. Now 5 years old, one twin "hasn't grown in a year," Walters said, adding that he still weighs 35 pounds, while his brother now weighs 56 pounds.

Walters also said doctors "didn't know what was wrong" with her 14-year-old son despite multiple ultrasounds, a colonoscopy and an emergency CAT scan.

"They could not figure out where his pains were coming from," Walters recalled, adding that he suffered from dizziness, headaches and rashes.

PHOTO:Michigan's special Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency, including, state Sen. Jim Stamas, Committee Clerk Scott Jones, state Sen. Jim Ananich and state Rep. Jeff Irwin listens to testimony,  March 29, 2016,  in Flint, Mich.
Michigan's special Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency, including, state Sen. Jim Stamas, Committee Clerk Scott Jones, state Sen. Jim Ananich and state Rep. Jeff Irwin listens to testimony, March 29, 2016, in Flint, Mich.
Daniel Mears/Detroit News via AP Photo

Walters said her older son's rashes were so bad that when he would take a bath, "He would scream and cry about how bad his skin burned."

"Yes, it keeps me up at night. Yes, it makes me emotional," she said. "These are my kids. These are everybody's kids."

Walters claimed that at a meeting with state health officials last year, several people, including herself, presented bottles of discolored water and vials of hair they'd lost from drinking the contaminated water, but she was accused of bringing water that did not come from her home.

"As I was showing them my water, I was told I was a liar and I was stupid by showing these bottles of water," she said.

Those water samples were thrown out of the second round of testing by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Mike Glasgow, Laboratory and Water Quality Supervisor said. He said he was instructed to throw those samples out because there was an "in-home filter" in Walters' home, but added he had been informed the filter was disconnected.

At today's hearing, local officials blamed the state government for the water crisis, saying they were guilty for ever trusting the state.

PHOTO:Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha testifies during a meeting of Michigan's special Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency, March 29, 2016, at the Northbank Center in Flint, Mich.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha testifies during a meeting of Michigan's special Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency, March 29, 2016, at the Northbank Center in Flint, Mich.
Daniel Mears/Detroit News via AP Photo

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attish testified that when the city's water supply was switched in April 2014 to the Flint River, there were immediate complaints of skin rashes and hair loss from members of the community.

Hanna-Attish said that while there is no "lead pill" to take away the effects of exposure, good nutrition is the best way to prevent serious health issues from appearing, adding that the body absorbs lead more readily with poor nutrition.

"Our kids will be okay," she said.

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