Flint, Mich. – As a follow-up to the investigation of rashes possibly associated with Flint water, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has requested an Assessment of Chemical Exposure (ACE) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Throughout February, MDHHS has been working to follow up with members of the public who report current skin rashes, with technical assistance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
MDHHS has been following up with individuals who have called 211 or visited their doctors with concerns about a current skin rash. This follow-up includes a home visit from a health information specialist to learn more from residents about their rashes and from an EPA team which takes water samples. This testing is different from other routine water sampling and testing throughout Flint and focuses identifying concentrations of metals and other water quality factors that may be associated with the reported rashes.
“While working with the community and our federal partners on these investigations, the option to utilize an ACE team in Flint has been identified as an important next step,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “We’re hopeful that an ACE investigation will assist us in further protecting the health of Flint residents by identifying any concerns that may be contributing to rashes and other skin concerns. Using the results of this investigation, we are committed to working closely with our local and federal partners to ensure swift action is taken to address any findings.”
A four-member ACE team will arrive in Flint this week. An ACE investigation involves experts from the CDC/ATSDR providing a rapid epidemiological assessment which includes assistance with training, surveying, interviews, sampling, and more.
“We have heard concerns from Flint residents about rashes, and as a parent and physician, I can understand how frustrating this situation can be,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who heads the federal government’s response and recovery support in Flint. “In response, we’re bringing in a team of chemical exposure experts to investigate the possible causes of these rashes and help residents and area officials determine what’s happening and why.”
Members of the public who have concerns about rashes are encouraged to see a doctor or call United Way 211 to be connected with a health information specialist for additional follow up.
For more information about the support an ACE investigation provides, visit http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ntsip/ace.html.
For additional information related to the response in Flint, visit www.michigan.gov/flintwater.