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Lead Poisoning

According to New Jersey Poison Information & Education System, lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause brain damage and other serious health effects in children, adults, and even pets. Lead has been reported to cause learning and developmental disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing and brain damage. Lead poisoning occurs when lead paint chips are eaten or when lead dust is either eaten or breathed into the lungs. 

Homes built after 1978 are not likely to have lead-based paint or lead in their plumbing, however in older homes lead has been found in dust, paint, water and soil. Lead can also be found in children's costume jewelry, food, dietary and herbal products, and even some candies made outside of the U.S. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that today at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. 

If you have an immediate concern about lead poisoning, call NJ Poison Control, NJ Poison Information, and Education System, at 800.222.1222 to speak with a poison control specialist or visit their website to start a live chat from their home page. Find local resources related to lead testing and remediation programs.

Lead Assistance Programs

State Lead-Safe Home Remediation Program

This program identifies and remediates lead-based paint hazards through interim controls to prevent elevated blood lead levels in children and pregnant women. The program targets municipalities in New Jersey with high reported incidence of elevated blood lead levels in children under age six. The target service areas of the State Lead-Safe Home Remediation Program are Atlantic County, Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Paterson (City), Passaic (City), Union County.

HUD Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program

This program identifies and remediates lead-based paint hazards through lead abatement to address those units which have children under the age of six with elevated blood lead levels. The program targets 11 municipalities in New Jersey with high reported incidence of elevated blood lead levels in children under age six. Those target service municipalities are Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Plainfield and Trenton. 

Learn more on these programs here or call 1-888-712-5077.

Local Events and Programs

Essex County

Newark's Lead Service Line Replacement Program
Newark’s water is lead free when it leaves the city’s water treatment plants and travels through the water mains in the streets.  However, when it travels through the water service pipes that connect from the water main on the street to the water taps in homes, it comes in contact with lead materials in the water service line and the residential plumbing.  The City of Newark is implementing several city wide programs to reduce or eliminate lead concentrations at the customer’s tap.   Learn more about what is being done.

Hudson County

Home Remediation Program
Puertorriquenos Associados for Community Organizations (PACO) and the County of Hudson are partnering together to provide Hudson County residents with information on the home remediation program for those households who are at a greater risk of lead poisoning. Learn more

Lead Poisoning is Serious

The effects of lead poisoning are very consequential. Lead poisoning can cause:

  • Seizures
  • Severe brain damage which can result in developmental or intellectual disabilities
  • Coma
  • Death

Even low levels of lead poisoning may be associated with:

  • Decreased hearing
  • Lower intelligence
  • Hyperactivity
  • Attention deficits
  • Developmental problems that can make learning more difficult

Potential sources of lead contamination include:

  • Lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. If lead-based paint chips or turns to dust it is easily swallowed or inhaled and can just as easily contaminate clothing and toys that a child handles.
  • Candy, toys, glazed pottery and folk medicine made in other countries
  • Work sites like auto refinishing, construction and plumbing
  • Soil and tap water

To learn more about lead poisoning and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit the Centers for Disease Control website and the NJ Department of Health.