HACKENSACK- On February 21, 2018, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted Resolution #127-18, accepting a $374,006 grant from the New Jersey Department of Health for the Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention (CLEP) Project. The grant allows the County to take a regional leadership role in preventing, tracking, and responding to lead exposure in children under the age of 17 with blood levels greater than or equal to 5 µg/dL.
Under the grant, the County will provide outreach services to pediatricians and children’s health clinics to educate physicians of the importance of performing blood lead screenings for children under the age of 6 at certain age milestones. According to a 2016 NJ Department of Health report, even though 98% of children tested were found to have normal lead levels, only approximately 20% of children under the age of 6 have had blood lead tests performed, a number the County seeks to increase dramatically.
Once a child tests positive for elevated blood lead levels, the County will use a statewide lead exposure tracking database to dispatch environmental inspectors to homes to perform testing of painted surfaces, soil, and water as required for the presence of lead, as well as recommend testing of other children and pregnant women living in the same household. The grant will allow the county to purchase additional x-ray fluorescence machines and a consumer product analyzer to find potential sources of lead contamination. The County will also educate families about the effects of lead, methods of reducing lead exposure, and will serve as case managers for all lead exposure to ensure follow-up testing occurs.
“Even low levels of lead exposure can hurt a child’s mental and physical development,” said Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco. “Because children are far more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults it is important that Bergen County do everything in its power to track, prevent, respond and work with local pediatricians and clinics. We are grateful for this state funding – it will help numerous children throughout the county.”
“Our Bergen County Department Health has the expertise, equipment, and experience, so expanding our lead program to cover almost all towns in the county is a win-win for everyone,” said Freeholder Chairman Tom Sullivan. “We know how dangerous lead exposure, even in small amounts, can be for the developing nervous systems of our children. This is a proactive step to allow us to closely monitor lead in children in Bergen County to keep them safe and healthy.”For information about childhood lead exposure and prevention, please visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/childhoodlead/ or email [email protected]