Flint woman worried how bone scan for possible lead will affect her

The Flint Water Plant tower is seen, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 in Flint, Mich. Flint is under a...
The Flint Water Plant tower is seen, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 in Flint, Mich. Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The city was under state management at the time.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 1:56 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - First, it was lead, now Flint residents may be facing new health concerns about how they were tested for it.

“Kinda worried it harmed my child,” said Amber Stebbins, who is 28 weeks pregnant.

Stebbins already had to live through the Flint water crisis, but now she has another health concern relating to the Flint water settlement, which involves testing some plaintiffs are being advised to get.

“We were already harmed, so it’s like why would you keep adding to the mess,” Stebbins said.

On Sunday, she said she had a lead test done on her bones to prove she was entitled to be part of the $641 million Flint water settlement.

Stebbins, who is represented by a different attorney, said she had the testing done at an intake center at the Napoli Shkolnik law firm in the Flint area.

That firm is working with its clients who were part of the Flint water crisis. She says they used a handheld scanner to do the lead test.

“They didn’t offer me, like an apron thing or whatever, and I didn’t know anything about those,” Stebbins said. “I didn’t even know that that was an option.”

She didn’t realize the potential danger until after talking with a friend and reading a locally published report. Bone scans are not usually done on pregnant women, because of concerns about exposing the fetus to radiation.

Dr. Lawrence Reynolds is a former pediatrician and the city of Flint health advisor. Reynolds, who does not know which scanner was used on Stebbins, said one called the XRF is not even made for humans.

“The law firm, that set this up, failed to register the equipment with the state of Michigan as required until I filed a complaint,” Reynolds said. “I’m still waiting from the state for the answer to my complaint.”

Reynolds provided TV5 with documentation that shows the scanner is normally used in industrial settings or testing consumer goods like kids’ backpacks and toys.

Earlier this year, Reynolds says he filed objections about the scanner to the U.S. District Court judge hearing the Flint Water crisis case.

“Because it does emit radiation,” Reynolds said. “Some people may say the risk is so small I don’t know why Dr. Reynolds is raising so much havoc. But there’s a benefit is zero, because at this time there’s no regular treatment that we have to remove lead from the bones, especially in children.”

A positive lead test could bring bigger payouts to Flint water victims and their attorneys’, but Stebbins said no amount of money was worth putting her baby at risk.”

“It’s not gonna be worth it, especially if it affects my child,” Stebbins said.

TV5 has reached out to the law firm for comment. So far we have not heard back. We also reached out to the U.S. District Court judge hearing the water crisis case, Judge Judith Levy, and we’ve been told the judge doesn’t comment on pending litigation.