Michigan government complicit in use of dangerous X-ray bone scans on Flint residents

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Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Detroit Free Press disclose criminal responsibility of the Michigan government for failing to investigate and stop radiation-emitting bone lead testing on residents of Flint. Without any state oversight or regulation for 18 months, as of August 2019, testing for lead contamination was not performed at a medical facility, but at local law offices in Flint of the firm of New York-based attorneys, Napoli-Shkolnik.

In a shocking revelation, a report released by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) states that the devices delivered doses 48 times greater than the accepted limit: “The reported skin equivalent dose of 48.5 millisievert exceeds the limit. of 1 millisievert (100 mrem).

When health violations are discovered in a restaurant, the establishment is immediately closed. However, the state made no attempt to protect the health and well-being of the residents of Flint or to inspect the Napoli-Shkolnik devices for a year and a half.

The Flint Water Plant

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration allowed thousands of Flint residents to unknowingly submit to radiation from a portable fluorescent X-ray XRF scanner made to detect metals and other elements in inanimate objects , such as scrap. The devices are explicitly not approved for use on humans according to Thermo Fisher, the manufacturer.

The bone lead test is an important part of Flint’s paltry $ 641.25 million water settlement for victims of lead poisoning in water that was sparked by the bipartisan decision to move on. Flint River water in April 2014 without any corrosion checks. Thousands of residents have been poisoned by lead that leaked from the system’s pipes and suffered countless negative health effects in what is one of the worst social crimes in American history. The city’s drinking water was rendered unusable, forcing residents to depend on bottled water as they continued to pay some of the highest water bills in the country.

Lead poisoning in the blood goes away after 30 days but stays in the bones for decades. The lead bone test is included in the language of the regulations. Wrongly described as “voluntary” by Attorney General Dana Nessel, the bone lead test is the way for residents to receive higher compensation. Without the tests, earnings are capped at just $ 1,000 per household for most residents.

The FOIA report includes documents from the MIOSHA office within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. They show that the first government inspection of the bone scan operation at the Napoli law firm did not take place until March 23, 2021, which is 18 months after the start of the bone scan!

State silence and inaction became impossible after Dr Lawrence Reynolds filed a court case on February 26, 2021 raising serious concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the radiation emitting device. He also noted that the two devices used by Napoli had never been registered with the state. Dr Reynolds is a pediatrician at Flint and former CEO of the Mott Children’s Health Center.

The court submission prompted Napoli to register the two devices in late February. An email sent March 18, 2021 from the state of Michigan to Napoli acknowledges that their request to register bone scintigraphy devices has been received and that the devices have been registered and certified.

The Michigan State Radiation Protection Section (RSS), however, did not inspect the Napoli offices until March 23, 2021. Two weeks later, on April 9, MIOSHA supervising physicist John Ferris sent the e -following email to the Napoli law firm:

“Please describe the dose levels to the irradiated person and how the dose levels were determined and provide any supporting documents such as copies of your research projects who evaluated the dose levels for this particular use of portable x-ray fluorescence devices. Are the machines (sic) used (including test results) as part of a medical examination research project? ” [Emphasis added]

Asking at this point if a medical research project is underway is not credible and is an insult to the people of Flint. It is implausible that the state, which is the main party in Flint’s water settlement, was not aware of the bone scan. It is written in the language of the regulations and is included in the compensation grid. How was it possible that registration was granted for two radiation emitting devices without inquiring into how they were used?

Additionally, the Napoli law firm has aggressively marketed and embarked on bone lead testing to enroll thousands of clients starting in July 2018, when African-American actor Hill Harper featured in Flint’s television infomercials. Al Sharpton visited the city in the fall of 2018 and reportedly signed 5,000 clients for Napoli. Benjamin Crump, known for representing the families of African-American men and women brutalized and killed by police, held two rallies in Flint with Napoli in the fall of 2019 to promote free bone scans if they s ‘registered with the law firm. The settlement provides for 32% of attorney’s fees for each award, making it very lucrative to enroll clients who will earn larger rewards if the bone scan test shows lead contamination.

On May 4, 2021, a week after all bone lead testing ended on April 27, as stipulated in the settlement agreement, a letter from the state to Napoli referred to the March 23 inspection of “l ‘x-ray facility “noting items of non-compliance and asking for a deadline to comply by May 30. The letter also stated that if non-compliance issues were resolved in a timely manner, there would be no penalty: “… the Department has found it effective to work with registrants to ensure the safe use of x-ray machines without that it is necessary to impose civil sanctions.

Other non-compliance issues included the lack of finger or wrist radiation monitors for scanner operators, and there was also no licensed physician on site in Michigan. None of those scanned, including at least one pregnant woman, were made aware of the radiation emission, meaning there was no informed consent.

The MIOSHA report also noted that no shields or protective measures had been provided to residents, and that there were no signs advising people of the use of radiation equipment. Other serious non-compliance issues included the lack of automatic shutdown timers that end exposure after a preset interval. Adding insult to injury, Napoli submitted 40-page document Flint -XRF Analyzer- Radiation Security Manual which appears to have been produced in May 2021, long after thousands of people were gathered in their law firms and unwittingly subjected to unacceptable levels of radiation.

In July 2021, Deputy Attorney General Margaret Bettenhausen told U.S. District Judge Judith Levy during the public “fairness hearing” that MIOSHA’s inspection of the Naples office required only “several changes. minor procedures, including signaling problems ”. His statements at the hearing were made on behalf of Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and should be viewed as nothing less than blatant lies.

Meanwhile, a Thermo Fisher deposition was scheduled to take place last Thursday but has been postponed. Judge Levy has yet to rule on a motion by Dr Reynolds to hold an evidence hearing with a neutral radiation expert, before ruling on the current language of the water rule.

The administration of Governor Whitmer’s Democratic Party as well as that of the Republican administration of former Governor Rick Snyder who oversaw the passage to the toxic Flint River, and the Obama administration who joined in the cover-up, are all responsible for harming the population and should be prosecuted. .

Justice for the people of Flint will not be secured by capitalist courts or by appealing to politicians from either of the capitalist parties. They are all beholden and accountable to the financial oligarchs, who have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by pursuing a policy of ‘herd immunity’ that has resulted in 660,000 preventable deaths in the United States alone, repeating their hostility on a large scale. and their murderous indifference. to the working population of Flint.

Society’s vast resources must be mobilized to meet the needs of Flint residents as part of a united struggle of autoworkers, teachers, healthcare workers and logistics workers in the United States And in the world. It requires a political struggle of the working class for socialism against the capitalist system.

We urge those who agree to form an independent action committee of Flint workers which will be affiliated with the International Alliance of Workers of Grassroots Committees and fight for what the residents of Flint need to be healed.


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