TRENTON – During National Lead Prevention Week (Oct. 20-26), the New Jersey Department of Health is joining county and local health departments throughout the state to help increase awareness of all lead hazards, educate residents about what they can do to prevent exposure, and encourage parents to have their children tested.
According to a release, in New Jersey, more than 75% of children with elevated blood levels were exposed through breathing or swallowing lead dust and eating or coming into contact with peeling lead paint on windowsills, floors or elsewhere in their homes.
“We know that no level of lead is acceptable for any child or pregnant woman,” stated Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Even low levels of lead can disrupt the normal growth and development of a child’s brain and central nervous system. It can cause learning disabilities, attention deficits, and hyperactivity.’’
If pregnant women are exposed to lead, lead passes from the mother to the baby through the umbilical cord.
The department provides more than $12 million to support county and local health departments’ efforts to prevent, screen and intervene in childhood lead.
As part of the National Lead Prevention Week, county and local health departments around the state are holding lead screenings for children and pregnant women, lead testing of household products and education sessions to increase awareness of potential sources of lead contamination and reduce childhood exposure to lead.
The primary source of lead exposure in children is lead-based paints used on houses built before 1978.
More than 71% of the residential housing in New Jersey was built before 1978, when the federal government banned lead-based paint.
About 20% of lead exposure may come from drinking water. Until it was banned by the federal government, lead was also used in the solder that connects copper pipes, in pipes used in household plumbing and service lines that connect houses to the public water mains in the street.
While lead paint in homes built before 1978 remains the largest contributor to elevated blood lead levels in children, there are many different lead exposure sources, including imported toys, candy, spices, jewelry, cosmetics, herbal remedies, and pottery.
Gov. Phil Murphy issued a proclamation declaring this week National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Earlier this month, he announced a comprehensive statewide plan to address lead exposure in New Jersey to protect all residents, especially children, from the dangers of lead.
The plan identifies policy actions across multiple state departments and agencies to comprehensively address lead exposure due to lead-based paint, lead service lines and plumbing, and contaminated soil.
The department is continuing its #kNOwLEAD public awareness campaign to remind families that children should be tested for lead at ages 1 and 2. Educational posters in several languages can be downloaded at: https://bit.ly/2MXoYyJ.
Posters explaining the role that healthy foods can play in preventing lead from being absorbed by the body are also available.
This website also has frequently asked questions about lead exposure.
The Department and the NJ Poison Center have also set up a 24/7 Health Hotline – 1 (866) 448-2432 – for people with questions and concerns about the health effects of lead exposure. The Poison Center has additional resources about lead at https://bit.ly/33Gg6Ef
A Department of Health fact sheet on lead in drinking water is available at https://bit.ly/2J3d44V.
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