Despite progress in reducing lead poisoning, over 4,800 children in New Jersey were identified with elevated blood lead levels (EBLL) (at/above 5µ/dL) in 2016. Moreover, approximately a quarter of all children have been exposed to Lead when the threshold is lowered to 3µ/dL. We know that there is no safe level of Lead in children, that the results are permanent, and that, when properly remediated, the solution can be permanent.

Childhood lead poisoning is an entirely preventable disease that cannot be cured; there is no excuse in 2018 for us not to solve this public health crisis. We were heartened to hear Governor Murphy include this goal in his State of the State, as New Jersey’s children deserve no less.

The Effects

Studies have proven that Lead leads to brain damage, kidney damage, diminished IQ scores, lower rates of high school graduation, cognitive development delays, learning disabilities, lower test scores, stunted growth, interference with red blood cell production, seizures, coma, behavioral problems, and death. Lead is absorbed by the brain and interferes with the mechanism of learning. Children are the most vulnerable – because the exposure to Lead occurs during brain development, the damage can be permanent. 

80% of New Jersey’s housing was built when lead paint was still in use.

There are currently universal screening requirements for children at 12 and 24 months and all children under 6 years who have not been screened. The screening rates, however, are not complete and vary widely by municipality.

Lead testing locations

For free testing you can visit your local FQHC or Board of Health.

Lead Remediation: low-moderate households may be eligible for free remediation, eligibility guidelines and contact for the pilot DCA Lead Remediation grant are here.

It can cost between $5,000-$12,000 per home to remediate lead exposure and make the home safe. This investment in the safety and well-being of New Jersey’s children also saves money; avoiding lead exposure can save $32,000 per child, per year, and up to $27 Billion statewide. Once remediation is complete, the threat is gone – no further exposure and no further expense.

Lead Free Kids

Since 2000, overall about 225,000 young children have been poisoned by lead in New Jersey. Community leaders, children, and housing advocates launched a campaign, #LeadFreeKidsNJ, to ensure $10 million in full funding to prevent childhood lead poisoning. The campaign saw success when the State of NJ announced plans to strengthen testing standards and commit $10 million to lead prevention.

Plan to Eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning
In February 2018, the Network partnered with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, Isles, Inc., Advocates of Children for New Jersey, the Fund for New Jersey and New Jersey Health Initiatives to a plan to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in the state within ten years. Click here to view the action report.