We recently published a new article in the Journal of Urban Health focusing on the “first wave” of our research in Flint. Our article, titled, A Population-Based Assessment of Physical Symptoms and Mental Health Outcomes Among Adults Following the Flint Water Crisis, explores some of the key health outcomes among adults in Flint following the crisis. Our research is the first to use a “population-based sample” to capture adult outcomes in the city, which is to say that we recruited participants who were “everyday” residents from Flint, conducting surveys with them at public sites throughout the city. What we found was both surprising an unsurprising.

At a broadest level, here’s the gist: Around 10% of residents indicated that a clinician had diagnosed them with elevated blood lead levels at some point following the crisis. We find that rates of skin rashes and hair loss, presumably associated with the water contamination following the crisis, were high in the period following the crisis at around 40% of the sample having these experiences. We further found that Black residents had significantly higher rates of both outcomes (skin rashes and hair loss) than White residents. Also, equally important and perhaps more startling, we found a heavy burden of PTSD in relation to the water crisis, with nearly 30% of residents showing PTSD-like symptoms associated with the water crisis.

At this stage, it’s difficult to put these findings into a broader context? Was it the water? What are the long-term implications here? What’s the “intervention” or policy solution to address these issues, namely the mental health consequences we observed? We’ll be investigating these dynamics more in the coming months!

You can view the article in full by clicking here.

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