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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 10, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Jennifer Sciortino
609-984-7160


 
Lead Awareness Night to be Held at Camden Rivershark’s Game


 

Commissioners Stress Importance of Lead Poisoning Awareness

 

 

TRENTON – In advance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 24-30), Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. is urging all New Jersey residents to get their children tested for elevated lead blood levels to avoid the irreversible damage caused by lead poisoning.

 

Today, childhood lead poisoning is considered to be the most preventable environmental health problem of young children, yet an estimated 434,000 U.S. children have elevated blood lead levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In New Jersey, an estimated 5,230 children have elevated blood lead levels (at least 10 micrograms per deciliter), which may lead to health and/or developmental problems.

 

“Every child should be tested for elevated blood lead levels at both one and two years of age,” said Dr. Lacy.  “A simple blood test can identify children at risk and help avoid neurological problems and disabilities.”

 

The Camden County Department of Health and Human Services (CCDHSS) and the Southern New Jersey Regional Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition will be co-sponsoring lead education activities at the Camden Rivershark’s baseball game tonight, September 10, 2004, at Campbell’s Field, Camden.  Activities will begin at 5:30 p.m., an hour prior to game time.

 

T-shirts, educational coloring books, literature and information on services available for childhood lead testing will be available at tomorrow night’s game.  The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) will also be providing their lead “exploratorium,” which is an interactive traveling exhibit dedicated to teaching pre-school and early elementary school age children about lead poisoning prevention. 

 

Finley, the Rivershark’s mascot, will also be on hand to entertain and guide children through the exhibit.  Throughout the game, the stadium will also air a lead-free rap video produced by NJN television network, with support from DHSS, as well as a public service announcement on lead poisoning prevention by Camden County Freeholder Laurelle Cummings.  There will also be a fireworks display immediately following the game. 

 

DHSS, the Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DHS/DMAHS), the City of Camden and CAMcare health center (members of the Southern New Jersey Regional Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition) will also be on hand to participate and provide information on their respective lead awareness and testing programs.

 

“Exposure to lead has been a devastating problem to the children we serve, most of whom live in the state’s older cities where lead paint was used extensively,” said Human Services Commissioner James Davy. “To battle this, the department has required increased lead screening for children in our programs, targeted some cities, such as Camden, for special efforts, and conducted extensive public awareness campaigns on the dangers of lead. But there is still much to do.”

 

Lead is a highly toxic metal that at one time was an ingredient in many household products, including lead-based paints manufactured before 1978. The primary source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based paint chips and lead-contaminated dust and soil found in and around old, deteriorating buildings.

 

Studies have found that lead can disrupt the normal growth and development of a child's brain and central nervous system. If this exposure happens at a critical time in brain development, any damage done is permanent. Young children are also more likely to be harmed by exposure to lead because the normal behavior of children - crawling on the floor, playing in dirt, putting objects in their mouths - puts them into immediate contact with any lead that might be present in their environment.  That is why it is very important to have children tested at the recommended ages and receive follow up care from their doctor when necessary. 

 

Currently, DHSS maintains a Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Surveillance System, which monitors elevated test results in children.  DHS and DHSS have conducted several lead screening improvement pilot projects throughout the State that focused on provider and community awareness of lead poisoning.  Additionally, DHSS provided more than $2.6 million in grants to local health departments for lead inspections and case management and allocated more than $400,000 for educational activities to expand lead awareness. 

 

Parents interested in having their child tested should contact their primary care physician.  Individuals without a regular source of medical care or health insurance should contact their local health department or nearest community health center.  To find the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) nearest you, call 1-800-328-3838. 

 

For additional information on lead poisoning prevention and testing, visit:

 

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