For nearly a decade, members of the Flint, Michigan community were exposed to elevated levels of lead in their water supply. This water crisis led to public officials, celebrities and activists calling on city and state officials to be held accountable for their actions leading up to this catastrophe. Ultimately, nine people were indicted for their actions leading up to the Flint Water Crisis and residents in the city were awarded a $641.25 million settlement. However, health experts have raised concerns regarding what Flint residents must do to get portions of the settlement.
Those seeking to access the large settlement may receive an increased payout if they can provide proof of excessive leads in their bodies. Residents can prove they suffer from heightened levels of lead through bone tests, blood tests or evidence of injury. Some attorneys involved in the settlement are utilizing portable X-ray devices when conducting bone tests in search of elevated lead levels. In response, health experts have raised concerns about residents being exposed to radiation from these X-ray devices.
"The risk of the treatment or some test that's medically approved has to be less than the benefit," Dr. Lawrence Reynolds of Flint, Michigan told ABC News.
"Why would you subject your child or yourself or a pregnant woman to the risk, no matter how small the radiation, if there's no benefit?"
Reynolds argues that the use of these devices is highly unethical because these X-ray machines were not designed for this purpose. Adding to the list of concerns raised by health experts, Dr. Brian Choi of George Washington University has explained that the use of these tests could have even more damaging effects on children.
"Children have more rapidly dividing cells so if a child is exposed to a lot of radiation, that's gonna be more problematic than like a 60-year-old being exposed to a lot of radiation," Choi explained.
Attorneys Corey Stern and Hunter J. Shkolnik have fielded complaints from health professionals, but the duo defends the use of these X-ray devices. While these devices are typically used on metal and dirt, Stern and Shkolnik say that they have been modified for human use.
"We emphasize that under no circumstances would we ever expose our clients or others in the community to risk of harm," the two attorneys wrote in court filings.
"The expert physicians and physicists who have developed and supervised the scanning process have published many studies and analyses that provide assurance that the process is without risk and, as discussed below, have received approvals from Purdue University and Harvard University to utilize the technology on humans."
Despite assertions from the two attorneys, medical professionals are still most concerned by the fact that these machines were not authorized for such use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"The No. 1 thing is that in the medical setting all of the radiation-producing equipment that we expose our patients to has to be FDA-approved because that assures a certain level of reliability and testing to make sure that the dose that patients receive is what you expect it to be," Choi told ABC News.
"It's very important to make sure that they're getting the appropriate dose necessary to make a proper diagnosis when it comes to radiology images."
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