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Somerset County Encourages Parents to Test Their Homes and Children for Exposure to Lead

Updated: Nov 15, 2023


There is no safe blood level for lead in children, and exposure can cause lifelong health and behavioral conditions.

Post Date: 10/25/2023 2:50 PM

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Department of Health (SCDOH) recognizes October 22-28, as National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. SCDOH is committed to raising awareness about the danger of lead exposure and preventing its serious health effects, through educating residents on how to reduce exposure to lead and the importance of testing children for lead.

“While the United States has made great strides in reducing residential and workplace environmental lead, it is still present in water that travels through old lead pipes, in lead-based paint on windows, baseboards, and walls, and in some consumer products and food from other countries,” said Somerset County Deputy Director Doug Singleterry, liaison to the Department of Health. “These lead hazards provide not just a current risk to our children but can cause lifelong behavioral and intellectual deficits and must be addressed as soon as possible.”

There is no safe blood lead level for children, and every effort should be made to remove lead from their environment. Even low levels of lead in the blood can cause developmental delays, difficulty learning, and behavioral issues. Most children exposed to lead have no visible signs or symptoms. The best way to know if a child has been exposed to lead is to have their blood tested by your healthcare provider.

The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is preventable. It is important to know where lead can be found throughout a child’s environment to identify potential lead and remove it immediately. Common sources of lead exposure include:

  • Chipping or peeling paint in homes or buildings built before 1978;

  • Water from lead pipes;

  • Soil found near airports and industrial sources;

  • Certain foods, cosmetics, and traditional medicines imported from other countries;

  • Spices and/or metal cookware from outside the United States;

  • Some consumer products (i.e., toys and jewelry) made outside the United States;

  • Certain jobs and hobbies may result in parents or caregivers bringing lead into the home.

Children younger than 6 years old are at a higher risk from exposure to lead because their bodies are still developing and rapidly growing. The most common source of lead exposure among young children is lead dust that they swallow after placing their lead-contaminated hands or other objects in their mouths.

Lead can also pass from a parent to their unborn baby during pregnancy. If an adult has been exposed to lead over a long period of time or has had high levels in their blood in the past, the lead stored in their bones can be released into the blood during pregnancy.

Parents and caregivers should take steps to prevent lead exposure before it occurs. Learn how to protect your family from lead exposure:

  • Get the Facts: Learn about lead exposure sources and the hazards of lead.

  • Get Your Child Tested: A blood test is the best way to determine exposure to lead. Talk with your health provider about testing your child.

  • Get Your Home Tested: Minimize your risk of lead exposure by hiring a certified professional to test your home for lead if it was built before 1978.

More information about childhood lead poisoning, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm, New Jersey Department of Health at https://www.nj.gov/health/childhoodlead/, or the Somerset County Department of Health at https://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/public-health-safety/health-department/lead-poisoning

Somerset County Department of Health (SCDOH) provides health education, nursing and environmental case management services for children who are identified as having elevated blood lead levels in our contracted municipalities in Somerset County.

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