January 2022 Book Review -- "What the Eyes Don't See"
On January 11th, 2022, members of the Women’s Giving Fund of the Park City Community Foundation will be virtually gathering for their annual book discussion. This year, the selection is the riveting and alarming account of the Flint water crisis told by the pediatrician who blew the whistle, What the Eyes Don’t See, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.
On December 7th, 2021, KPCW spoke with Jon Devine, the Director of Federal Water Policy, regarding new efforts to restore federal protections for clean water. Listening to Chris Cherniak ask about the details of our nations drinking water, it is difficult not to be outraged that laws like these should be necessary. When we have the science about clear and potentially devastating risks to public health, why on earth would it take legislation to remove those risks?
It is with just that level of moral outrage that Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha fought for the citizens, particularly the children, of her Flint, Michigan community when she learned that the public drinking water was toxic. In her fiery memoir, What the Eyes Don’t See, she takes us through the crisis from the moment she begins to suspect a problem through everything and everyone it took to begin the process of addressing it.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s fury is contagious. By the time she and her team have irrefutable proof that the water being delivered to the citizens of Flint was filled with lead, she also has proof that the responsible government agencies KNEW ABOUT IT. In fine-grained detail, she explains the problem of lead exposure:
“Today we have a more complete picture of the neurotoxin’s evil
effects. Thanks to the work of scientists and pediatricians…we know lead’s
potential to twist behavior, attack every system in the body, erode
cognition, and possibly even warp one’s DNA.”
In what should have ignited the first public alarm about the drinking water, the local GM engine plant applied for and was granted an exemption to the water because it was corroding the machine parts. Yet the citizens continued to have lead-filled water delivered to their homes and to be billed for it.
On January 11th, the members of the Park City Community Foundation will be engaging in what promises to be a very lively discussion of this account. What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha is available today at your public library. For KPCW, this is Cathy Lanigan.