An Advocate for Flint

Community-Centered Crisis Response with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Contagious Conversations  /  Episode 8: An Advocate for Flint

A city's collective fight for environmental justice

Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha shares how she became an advocate for the people of Flint, Michigan, during the water crisis, and discusses the community-centered work that is creating a better future for families and children in Flint today.



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Below: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha sees a patient as part of her work as director of the the Michigan University-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative.





Claire Stinson: Hello, and welcome to Contagious Conversations. I'm your host, Claire Stinson. Every episode we'll hear from inspiring leaders and innovators who make the world healthier and safer for us all. Contagious Conversations is brought to you by the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that builds partnerships to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention save and improve more lives.

Joining me today is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and a public health advocate who has worked on the Flint water crisis. Dr. Hanna-Attisha is founder and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, an innovative program that provides the public health tools to advocate for Flint's children's healthy development.

In this episode, Dr. Mona shares how she became a community advocate for the people of Flint, Michigan during the water crisis and her impact on the lives of the children in Flint. Welcome, Dr. Mona!

Mona Hanna-Attisha: It's great to be with you, Claire.

Claire Stinson: So Dr. Mona, you are a pediatrician, a professor and a public health advocate, particularly related to the Flint water crisis. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Sure. So I started my career as an environmentalist, as a community organizer, really quite young. So in high school got involved in environmental activism, worked to shut down an incinerator that was in our nearby neighborhood. That incinerator was in the backyard, really, of an elementary school and the senior center, the kids in that neighborhood had higher rates of asthma, adults had higher rates of breathing problems.

So at a really young age, like I was 14 years old, I started door knocking and working with community organizations to shut down that incinerator, and worked to elect a state rep who, the very first thing he did when he was in our legislature was close that incinerator, and it's been closed for about 20 years now. So at a very, kind of, young age learned about the connection between environment and public health, its disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities and children, and really the power of policy and policy makers to make a difference in improving the lives of communities.

So, then I, I then pursued my undergraduate degree very much in kind of environmental science. I was at the University of Michigan in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and then quickly found that connection into environmental health, kind of created my own major in environmental health. Then went to medical school, realizing kind of the most intimate way for me to serve and to use these skills of science and math and advocacy was in medicine.

And then naturally fit into the discipline of pediatrics where I did my residency training in Detroit, Michigan. Pediatrics is, of all specialties, I believe just, you know, in and of itself public health and prevention. Everything we do for children is very much about how they are today, but so much of what we do as pediatricians is about protecting the promise and the potential of our children. And very much as pediatricians, our job is also to be an advocate.

I realized I also kind of needed the skillset and the tools to be able to make an impact at that population level. So I went back and got a master’s in Public Health and Health Policy and then that kind of brought me back to Flint where I did my clinical training as a medical student in 2011 to lead the pediatric residency program. So really hoping as a medical educator to merge the disciplines of pediatrics and public health in the care of a population with a high percentage of significant disparities.

Claire Stinson: Wow, that's quite a background. What would you say you love the most about being a pediatrician?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Oh, I was in clinic yesterday and hands down what I love the most is our children. They give me energy, they inspire me, they wake me up every single day. Our kids, especially our kids in Flint, are bright and they are brave, and they are resilient, and they are strong, and they just instantly put a smile on my face. So that is absolutely what I love about being a pediatrician, is that one-on-one interaction with kids.

However, you know, as part of my job description as a physician, you know we have many hats and one of those hats is yes, as a clinician, but we're also researchers, and we're also educators, and we're also advocates. And that advocacy work is one of the reasons I went into this discipline of pediatrics and as a really a reminder to so many physicians, that we all have that opportunity to speak up for the children in the populations that we care for.

Claire Stinson: Amazing. Well, it sounds like you're a good pediatrician, so the perfect person to work with kids. Let's talk a little bit about the water crisis in Flint. Can you share how you became an advocate for people in Flint?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yes. So the Flint water crisis― it started really in 2014. Flint had lost democracy; we were under the control of the state. There was a financial emergency manager running the city, and that emergency manager's focus was austerity. It was to save money and they decided that the water that we had been getting for half a century from Detroit, fresh Great Lakes water, was now too expensive for this poor, predominantly minority near-bankrupt city.

So in April of 2014 Flint's water source was changed from the Great Lakes to the Flint River. And right away there were concerns in terms of color, and odor, and taste, and bacteria, and boil advisories, and kind of the list goes on of lots of warning signs about this water. But throughout, everybody was reassuring Flint that everything was okay.

And as a pediatrician for over a year and a half, I was also telling my patients that everything was okay. Families would come and they would ask, "Is it okay for me to bathe my baby in this water? Is it okay to mix my baby's formula in this water? Are you sure I should be drinking eight glasses of water instead of pop, or soda, or juice?"

Throughout this time as a pediatrician, I was sharing that everything was okay because other scientists, and public health officials, and, you know, powerful people in government were saying that everything was okay. That all changed for me in the summer of 2015 when I heard about the possibility of lead being in the water.

You know, I'd heard about the color and the taste and the odor and bacteria and lots of chlorine and different disinfectant byproducts and all these different things. But when I heard about the possibility of lead being in the water, I no longer was reassuring my patients. Because when a pediatrician without public health background hears the word lead, it's a call to action.

We know what lead does. It's probably the most well studied neurotoxin. We know that there's now no safe level of lead. We also know that lead is a form of environmental injustice. So it was that pivotal point when I heard about lead that my role quickly shifted from a clinician to that of really a kind of a detective scientist researcher to see what was happening with our children, if the lead was increasingly in their bodies. And then once again, my role quickly morphed into an advocate to really raise the red flag that this was – this was ongoing.

Claire Stinson: Wow. So it sounds like you became a disease detective.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Absolutely. And that’s, I think that's what I love about public health, and I think that's why so many folks go into public health, because of the sleuths that so many public health folks hope to be. You know if we go back to the stories of John Snow, who found out that, hey, it was cholera that was... it was drinking water, contaminated drinking water that was causing these cholera epidemics, it wasn't stinky air that was commonly believed.

So it was kind of shoe-on-the-ground, boot leather epidemiology detective work that attracts me to public health, but also was critically important in the discovery of what was happening in Flint.

Claire Stinson: So, Dr. Mona, why is lead so dangerous for children?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yeah, so like I said earlier, we know so much about lead, really for centuries we've known that lead is a poison. There's even strong theories that hypothesize a demise of the Romans is because they used so much lead in their plumbing but also in their food.

So lead is a potent irreversible neurotoxin. It impacts the development of children and impacts their cognition, so at a population level, lead exposure shifts that IQ curve to the left. You have more children who need, for example, special education services, less children who are gifted. It leads to things like developmental delays, attention deficit disorder. It's even been linked to things like criminality.

We also know that it impacts older folks, not just kids, but can impact, for example, things like early dementia and hypertension, a whole slew of bad things that lead causes. And because of this incredible science, especially so much of the science that has come to light over the last few decades, we now know that there is no safe level of lead, and that as a population we should be practicing something called ‘primary prevention,’ which in the world of public health means that children are never supposed to be exposed to lead. And when we find it in the environment, that should be enough. That should be when we start taking action, because of what lead does to children and how it can really alter that entire life course trajectory of that child.

Claire Stinson: So that's really interesting and terrifying. It sounds like there's a lot of risk there.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yeah, there's a lot of risk, and you know, it’s – it's also a public health success story, sort of. I use caution there because so many people have touted that we've done such a good job reducing that exposure that because of that we forgot to pay attention to lead and we've lost a lot of the funding and resources to take care of the ongoing lead problem.

But you know back in the day we had more lead exposure because of industries’ use – really, forced use – of lead in gasoline, and paint, and plumbing. And finally, because of great policies, we restricted those uses and the exposure of lead has gone down significantly. It's still not where it was, for example, pre-industrial time where we really didn't have any lead in our bodies, it peaked with the use of, obviously, lead in gasoline, and it's come down quite a bit.

So children are not exposed to as much lead as they used to be. Kids in the '60s and '70s had a lot more lead exposure. But at the same time we have to respect the science that has gotten us to the point of recognizing that there is no safe level of lead, and we also have to take note of its disparities of exposure.

The burden of lead, just like so many of our environmental contaminants, does not fall equally on our nation’s children. Kids in Flint already had higher lead levels than other kids, for example, in the suburbs, just like kids in, for example, Detroit, and Chicago, and Baltimore and Philadelphia. So there is a disparate burden of exposure, which is why lead is very well known as a form of environmental injustice or a form of environmental racism.

Claire Stinson: Well, you sound like a good spokesperson for this issue, I have to say.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: I mean, there's been so many great spokespeople. In my book, I talk a lot about the history of lead – and it's so important, because we have to understand that we're hearing a lot about lead right now, especially after Flint. But this is something that the activists, and doctors, and public health scientists and moms and so many folks have been fighting against, really, for decades, if not centuries.

And if I can quickly, like, share my – my favorite hero in the story is a woman named Alice Hamilton. She was the nation’s lead expert a century ago and in the 1900s. And she with all her might went after General Motors who was putting lead in gasoline. At that time, General Motors called lead “a gift from God.”

And she knew it was toxic and she warned folks, but industry prevailed and what set forth because of those discussions was something called the keyhole paradigm. Where industry kind of made a deal, General Motors made a deal saying, you know, "If you can prove that lead is dangerous, we'll take it out." And that's what this keyhole paradigm is all about. It's like, it's safe until proven dangerous, which is completely the opposite of common sense. Opposite of the precautionary principle, where really, we should be governed by “dangerous until proven safe.”

However, that paradigm that was set a century ago has persisted and has allowed for the unchecked use of thousands of chemicals. And when it comes to lead, really has silently poisoned the generations of children. You know, I stand on the shoulders of giants. I know a lot about lead because so many folks have done this work for so long, yet the legacy of lead persists.

Claire Stinson: So it sounds like maybe you're a modern-day Alice Hamilton. Would you say that's maybe true?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: No, she– that would be too much. She's amazing. She's a hero and I absolutely adore her.

Claire Stinson: That's a powerful story. So speaking of stories, is there one story from Flint that resonated with you the most?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: There's so many stories, and – and there's so many patients that have stuck with me throughout this crisis. And I'll share a quick story about a little girl – two little girls, they're siblings – who came to clinic in the summer of 2015. And the little girl was there for her four month checkup and her mom had come and was sharing that she was going to stop breastfeeding and that she was going to transition to formula.

And she asked me, are you sure I can mix my baby's formula with – with the water? And of course I tried to encourage her to continue breastfeeding, but you know, she had made up her mind, she had to go back to work. The family was dependent on her income, she couldn't risk losing her job, she worked at a restaurant, there was no place to pump… it was just impossible for her to continue breastfeeding, which is another story that we need to address.

And she asked me, you know, point blank, are you – is the water safe?

And this was before I'd known about lead, and I had the older daughter in my lap, a two-year-old daughter, and she was – she was inches away from me, and the older daughter was also kind of staring at me, and the mom asked, "Is the water safe? Can I mix my baby's formula with this water?"

And in my kind of white coat on, doctor confidence, I reassured her. I said, "Yeah, the water’s safe. I mean like, how can the water not be safe? This is America, the 21st century. Richest country in the history of the world. There's rules and there’s regulations and there's people that our tax dollars fund to make sure that when we turn on our tap, our water is okay.”

And in my head I was also thinking like, how could the water not be safe? Because this is Michigan, and we are literally in the middle of the Great Lakes, which are the largest source of fresh water in the entire world. Like, how can our water not be safe? So as you know – and it's – it’s, you know, it’s hard for me to admit that, you know – this conversation happened. You know our water wasn't safe.

And that story has stuck with me. That family has stuck with me.

Obviously, there was significant follow-up that happened afterwards. You know, when I became a pediatrician, I took an oath to protect children. I literally stood up and said that I was, you know, I was going to do whatever I needed to do to make sure that our kids were healthy and safe. Yet here was, you know, a year and a half of this ongoing crisis when I didn't know what was going on, that I was reassuring families and, and – fundamentally had, had been letting them down.

Claire Stinson: Wow, that's really powerful. And I'm sure that really did stick with you throughout your whole experience becoming a public health advocate for those children and those families.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yeah, absolutely, and you know when... Even in the lowest moments of this crisis, for example, you know after I shared my research and the state was saying I was wrong, and a part of me wanted to, like, hide and, like – give up, what really kind of lifted me up and, and got me back to fighting for children were those stories, and were those individual children.

Because my research, yeah, it was a bunch of spreadsheets, and it was a bunch of data, and a bunch of statistics. Every single one of those numbers was a kid. A kid I'd probably even seen over the last year. Like, you know, kids that I had known, that I'd examined, that I had played with, that I had – you know, given fist bumps to. So it was those kids that literally jumped out of my spreadsheets and got me up and gave me the courage to keep fighting on their behalf.

Claire Stinson: Well, you're very passionate, and it certainly comes across. So it sounds like you're a great advocate for these families.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: I hope so. I'm privileged. I mean, this… I wake up every day privileged to be able to serve my children in Flint.

Claire Stinson: We'll be right back with Dr. Mona.

Since this is a show about contagious conversations, we want to hear from you. Each episode we ask you a question and this episode's question is inspired by the community advocacy work of Dr. Mona. How have you made an impact in your community? Just email to answer. That's And if you share your thoughts with us, you'll have the chance to win some CDC Foundation merchandise.

And now, back to our conversation with Dr. Mona.

So let's talk a little bit about your book. What the Eyes Don't See is a firsthand account of the Flint water crisis. Congratulations, by the way, on the book being named a New York Times notable book of 2018.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Thank you.

Claire Stinson: What are you most proud of related to this book?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: It was a tremendous feat writing a book, like – I found a whole new respect for authors. It is a lot of work to write a book and I don't think I ever could have anticipated that. So just to be able to finish this task was huge for me, because this was on top of everything else that I was doing. This was not during work time. This was on top of kind of family time, and nights and weekends of doing this work.

And as a physician, I’m – I think like most folks out there – I'm very Type A and OCD. So the hardest part about doing this book was turning it in. Like I could have kept going on and on and on and on, in terms of like side research and digressions and editing and editing. So I think the biggest feat was really just accomplishing it to begin with.

And you know, the story is very much kind of this firsthand account of what happened in Flint and, and my role. But the story is also very much a memoir, which is unexpected for a lot of people who pick it up, who think that they're just going to get a Flint story. So in that respect, it's an immigrant story. I'm a first-generation immigrant, so it really weaves a lot of kind of family history and an immigrant perspective and an immigrant lens to this work, and I felt that was critically important to weave in to this story, because to know kind of what I do and why I do what I do, you have to know who I am and where I came from.

I mean, especially in this current climate that we're in right now as a nation, I felt it was critically important to share that perspective of, here I am as someone who wasn't born in this country. You know, who came to this country very much for what all immigrants come to this country for: freedom, opportunity, democracy. Somebody who came to this country, who that American dream was absolutely realized for. Yet here we are, with the climate of – of Lady Liberty's arms not being as open wide as it was when I came to this country. So that was kind of a more complicated weave of this book, but I felt it was almost an as powerful story that needed to be shared.

Claire Stinson: Well, it sounds like you really made it resonate with people – stories resonate with people, and so you made it relatable, which I think is a really important part of storytelling.

You are the founder and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a program to help mitigate the impact of the Flint water crisis. Can you tell us more about this program?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Absolutely. So this is the awesome work that I get to do every day. And you know, from the moment that we recognized that we had this population-wide exposure, we – our focus became, what are we going to do next? How can we best mitigate the impact of this crisis? The crisis was more than just about lead. We had an outbreak for example, of Legionnaire's disease, where people died from pneumonia. We had massive skin issues.

But by and large it was a crisis of trust. People felt betrayed by those who were supposed to protect them. There's raw emotions of anger, and fear, and guilt, and anxiety, and stress – and all of these things in and of themselves can lead to poor outcomes.

So we kind of put this whole crisis… we contextually framed this crisis as a trauma, and really leaning on the incredible science now that we know of early adversity, and toxic stress, and resilience, and child development, put into place a system of interventions to – to mitigate this trauma. And this is all happening on top of a community that was already rattled with so many toxicities.

For example, in Flint we have a – almost 70 percent child poverty rate. We have no full-service grocery stores, high unemployment, and decades of disinvestment, and racism, and other kind of structural issues that have created so many disparities in the community. And then the water crisis was on top of that.

So the public health initiative really has this broad mission of improving overall outcomes for Flint children, really serving as a model for the nation in terms of recovery, and hope, and healing – and really being able to share those best practices that we are doing in Flint to other communities.

Because the story of Flint, and this is what I hope to share, the story of Flint is not an isolated story. It's really a story of kind of what's happening to so many of our communities and so many of our nation's children, be it a story of poverty, a story of lost democracy, a story of stolen opportunity. But another story of a place where your zip code is your greatest predictor of your life outcomes.

And that's not right, and that's not how it should be. And what we've done in Flint is as a community, really hand-in-hand with so many of our community organizations, but also hand-in-hand with our parents and our children as partners, put into place this model initiative to mitigate the impact of this crisis in a very trauma-informed way.

So as a community, what we've done is leaned on the science of child development and expanded things like home visiting programs, and early literacy promotion, and breastfeeding services, childcare opportunities, and school health services, Medicaid expansion… the list goes on and on of what we've been able to put in place to promote the development of children and to not see the consequences of this crisis.

Professionally, morally, ethically, we couldn't just sit back and just see what would have been, you know, the consequences of this crisis. We, we – we knew what would have happened. So as a community – and this is what I love about Flint, this kind of really resilient and proud and loyal philosophy – as a community folks came together, rolled up their sleeves and built all of these interventions that we now have in the city to mitigate the impact of this crisis.

And what we're hoping to show is that, you know, what we're doing in Flint can be replicated in other communities. And I'll just share a quick example of how that's already happened. My clinic receives the most Flint kids, is located on the second floor of a farmer's market, which was a very purposeful move by us to address nutrition security issues.

Every kid that comes to my clinic, no matter if they're there for an ear infection or a well-baby visit, gets a prescription for fruits and vegetables, just written just like a prescription for antibiotics or anything else. Families fill it in the farmers market, and it’s worth $15. We robustly evaluate that with our public health nutrition colleagues.

And because of the success of that nutrition prescription program, our U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow put a nutrition prescription program in the U.S. Farm Bill. It passed Congress and it was signed by the President. So this is just kind of one example of how one little thing that we are doing in Flint is really inspiring national policy and hoping to impact children all over this country.

Claire Stinson: Wow. That's a lot of amazing programs under one initiative. Are you really proud of the impact so far?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Absolutely. And we are just beginning, though. So our work really is just beginning. This is long-term work. To date we don't really have the capacity and the resources. A lot of these efforts are state, federal, philanthropic funded, but they're not funded for the long-term.

And that's actually another reason that I wrote my book, because part of the proceeds go to our Flint Kids Fund, which enables us to continue supporting, for example, the home visitors and the literacy support programs and the breastfeeding capacity building. So this is work that we need to be doing long-term. So I'm proud of what we've been able to do as a community, but I'm cautious and worried about its sustainability.

Claire Stinson: Well, best of luck with sustaining that, because it sounds like really important work.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: It's important work for Flint kids, but it's – it’s really important work for all kids. So what we are doing in Flint really needs... These are things that should have been in Flint decades ago, but these are things that science tells us that all kids need. All kids need great nutrition, and early education resources, and access to healthcare. So it's really common sense, science-based work that we're putting into place, but really that I'm hoping will kind of resonate nationally and be adopted elsewhere.

Claire Stinson: Right. Absolutely. No, important points. So speaking of communities, in your view, how can we empower people to play a larger role in improving the health of their city or community?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: That's a great question. And that's so important for Flint. The story of what happened in Flint is such a story of an environmental injustice, specifically because the voices of communities were dismissed. The people of Flint were loud, and they were brave, and they were heroic, and they were organized. Yet throughout this crisis they were being dismissed and denied and literally told to relax.

So I think the biggest lesson that we have learned is the importance of participatory democracy and the importance of self-determination. And that is why all of our work in Flint is in partnership with community. That's very much the philosophy of Michigan State University's public health program in Flint. It is all based on being community driven, community informed, and community participatory.

In my little initiative, we've formalized that in a couple of ways. We have a parent-partner group, so we have a group of parents, moms, dads and grandparents and foster parents from every part of the city who advise us and – of all of our work, who tell us kind of what we should be doing and how we should be doing it.

And we've taken it a step further. We actually have a group of kids who named themselves the Flint Youth Justice League. So an amazing group of kids aged like, 8 to 18, who are leading so much of our work, who are telling us what we should be doing. That is such an important kind of lesson right now.

Our youth are brilliant and they are powerful. And if you look at examples from Parkland, to the climate change activists, they are literally changing policy and the trajectory of the world. So we need to do a better job at closing our mouths and listening to our kids. And that's a big part of what we're doing in our Pediatric Public Health Initiative, is actively including the voices of children and community in everything that we are doing.

Another incredible important part of recovery, I talk about all the great things we've been putting in place, like, you know, home visiting programs, and healthcare access, nutrition support, all these things that promote the development of children. But I'm not naive to think that that is enough.

I often say that the strongest kind of medication that I can prescribe to families is living wage jobs for their parents, to really lift them out of poverty. So all of our work deliberately is also bringing in jobs to Flint, and our – just our Pediatric Public Health Initiative, including our Flint Registry, has brought in probably 40-plus jobs. And a lot of those are for Flint residents.

That's another critical part of being community-engaged and community-driven is making sure that the work is done by the community, for the community, with the community.

Claire Stinson: Well you're certainly a leader in Flint – and I love the idea of a Flint Youth Justice League. I love that name, too.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: They're awesome. They just came up with their logo, which is like – they're all superheroes. It's fantastic.

Claire Stinson: Oh, I love it. I love it. Tell us about the progress in Flint. How are things in Flint today?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: We are still on filtered water and bottled water in Flint, but that's for a good reason. That's because our pipes are being replaced, which is fantastic. And that will be done within a few months and we will only be the third city in the country that has replaced their lead pipes. That's awesome. We never should have been using a neurotoxin to deliver our drinking water. It's mind boggling. So I'm hoping that after Flint, and it's already happening, many more cities will decide to invest, and states, in getting rid of the lead from our drinking water infrastructure.

So that's – that’s good news. But until then, precautions are still in place regarding bottled water and filtered water because whenever you do infrastructure work or any kind of earth-moving work, it has the potential to disrupt lead scale and increase lead release. That should be completed within the next few months.

So that's kind of where we are in regards to the water. But in my world, which is where we are in regards to the children, like I said, we've been able to put in so many incredible interventions to mitigate the impact of the crisis. We've also recently launched something called the Flint Registry, which is a CDC-supported massive population-wide registry to see how Flint is doing.

But more importantly, to see how Flint is doing, this registry is all about improving public health. So once people sign up for the registry, they then get connected to a lot of the awesome that we've been able to bring in, from banded Medicaid, to early childcare, to literacy support, to what have – mental health services. Then we'll be following folks over time with this registry. So lots of great things happening in Flint and also really much, very much building, kind of, the data-driven tools to be able to share how the city is doing.

Claire Stinson: So lots of progress. And it sounds like a little bit of cautious optimism around where you are with the water.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Absolutely.

Claire Stinson: So Dr. Mona, are there other public health challenges that you are hoping to tackle in the future?

Mona Hanna-Attisha: One of the great things about Flint is the ripple effects that it has had really throughout our nation. It's really opened people's eyes to issues that might be happening in their own backyard. Drinking water issues because of Flint have been elevated. You know, I think I probably spend half my time now working with other communities that have concerns.

For example, I was just in Newark, New Jersey, which is also in the midst of very similar lead-in-water issues, and helping that community and their residents educate on how best to protect, especially, the children.

So you know, schools are finding lead in water, and there's a need to strengthen regulations. There's now an increased discovery of other contaminants in water, like the PFAS, PFOA issues, the flame retardants which have contaminated a lot of drinking water supplies throughout our nation. So there have been so many incredible ripple effects where people are now paying attention to our drinking water, recognizing that we need to do a lot more to protect public health and children's health in terms of the safety of our drinking water.

We're also seeing an increased attention paid to lead. Many people thought lead was a problem of yesterday and it's not. It's a problem of yesterday, yes, but it's a problem of today and it's a problem of tomorrow. And we've made great strides, but there's a lot more that we need to do to finally eliminate the lingering legacy of lead. So lots of great things have happened since Flint that have really been outside of – of the city.

Claire Stinson: So you're not slowing down, you have lots more to tackle in the coming years.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: We have a lot of work to do all over this nation.

Claire Stinson: Well, Dr. Mona, it's been such a pleasure talking to you today. We really appreciate you sharing the story of Flint and your involvement. It's really powerful and we hope to talk to you again soon.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: Claire, thank you so much for having me.

Claire Stinson: Thanks for listening to Contagious Conversations, produced by the CDC Foundation and available wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to visit for show notes and bonus content. And if you like what you just heard, please pass it along to your colleagues and friends, rate the show, leave a review, and tell others. It helps us get the word out. Thanks again for tuning in and join us next time for another episode of Contagious Conversations.