Fighting Lead Contamination with Nutrition
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
In Flint, Michigan, nearly 9,000 children were supplied lead-contaminated water for over 18 months. According to the EPA, lead exposure causes central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells in children. Lead also bioaccumulates in the body over time and poses serious effects on family health.
There is no cure for lead poisoning, however, research has shown that diet may moderate the effects of lead. It is essential in a community facing a lead crisis, like Flint, to ensure that residents have access to food that does not amplify, but rather, mediates the toxicity of lead. Like 23.5 million others in the US, many of Flint's residents live in a food desert, where they depend on highly processed, nutritionally inadequate food for their calories. Residents of food deserts have double the risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes and four times the risk of kidney failure.
The Last Kilometer is supporting 501CTHREE, Flint’s Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV), and researchers at Michigan State University to better understand the barriers to improving nutrition in food deserts. By partnering with a local chef, we’ve created programming, provided recipe cards and cooking tools, and are developing a cookbook for the Flint community. Our goal is to holistically improve community health and healthy food access as well as study the effects of quality nutrition on people who have been exposed to lead.