First, Flint residents were exposed to toxic lead.
Now, there are concerns many could be exposed to harmful radiation through bone scans as they seek to document their exposure to lead and secure their shares of a $641.25 million settlement of civil lawsuits arising from the Flint water catastrophe.
But Hanna-Attisha, a professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Flint whose analysis of Flint blood testing helped to expose the Flint water crisis, does not recommend bone scans for children. She says the risk, even if low, comes without benefits. And she described as “maddening” news that the scanner was used over the weekend on a pregnant woman.
Amber Stebbins, a Flint-area woman who is 28 weeks pregnant, told the Free Press she was given a bone scan Sunday at the Flint clinic run by the Napoli Shkolnik law firm and was never asked whether she was pregnant or given a lead shield or other form of protection.
“I’m not in the medical field,” said Stebbins. “I don’t know if it’s going to affect my child.”
Bone scans are not routinely performed on or recommended for pregnant women, because of concerns about exposing the fetus to radiation.
Two medical experts cited by the attorneys, Dr. Michael Weitzman, a professor of pediatrics and environmental science at New York University, and Aaron Specht, a research associate at Harvard with a doctorate in medical physics, did not respond to emails from the Free Press on Tuesday.
But Paul Napoli, a New York attorney whose law firm owns the portable scanner, said in a Tuesday email the fetus would receive no radiation because the dose is restricted to a 1-centimeter area of the lower leg.
The other two lead attorneys involved in the case, who are designated the co-class counsel, Michael Pitt of Royal Oak and Theodore Leopold of Florida, filed a motion March 1 asking Levy to temporarily halt the bone scans.
Pitt and Leopold cited concerns about lack of access to the bone scan equipment by clients represented by other attorneys and a lack of transparency about what approvals the portable equipment had received. The portable scanner did not appear to have approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a medical device, and the court should ensure its use is “legally permissible based on findings of safety and efficacy made by a regulatory agency with the requisite authority,” the court filing said.
But Pitt and Leopold withdrew the motion later that day after a hearing with Levy, to which Cuker was not invited, and which includes a 26-minute time span that was “off the record” and not included in the transcript.