According to New Jersey Poison Center, 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 suggests 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. Exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms and frequently goes unrecognized.
If you have an immediate concern about lead poisoning, call NJ Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 to speak with a poison control specialist or visit their website to start a live chat. 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), and Union County. For more information and eligibly requirements, call (888) 712-5077 or visit their website.
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. For more information and eligibly requirements, call (888) 712-5077 or visit their website.
Local Events and Programs
Home Remediation Program for select locations Learn more and apply here.
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.
Home Remediation Program
Puertorriquenos Associados for Community Organizations and Hudson County are partnering together to provide Hudson County residents with lead-safe paint repairs of residential units built prior to 1978. Learn more about this program and eligibility requirements.
Lead Poisoning is Serious
The effects of lead poisoning are very consequential. Lead poisoning can cause:
- Severe brain damage which can result in developmental or intellectual disabilities
Even low levels of lead poisoning may be associated with:
- Decreased hearing
- Lower intelligence
- 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