- More New Jersey children were tested for lead poisoning and less
had elevated blood levels in Fiscal Year 2001 than in the previous
year, according to the state's annual report on childhood lead poisoning
screening, which was released today by the New Jersey Department
of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
report, titled "Childhood
Lead Poisoning in New Jersey: Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2001,"
showed that there was an 8.5 percent increase in the number of children
tested for lead poisoning, with an 11 percent increase in the one-
and two-year old category alone. Less than 4 percent (3.8) of those
children who were tested had elevated blood levels-down from 5 percent
a year ago.
Department also today announced a new initiative to help local health
departments in the follow-up investigations and abatement in cases
where elevated blood levels are reported.
am pleased to see that New Jersey is making steady, consistent progress
in identifying children with lead poisoning," said Acting Governor
Donald T. DiFrancesco. "This annual report serves as a valuable
reminder to parents and health care professionals alike as to the
significant health risks posed by lead exposure and the importance
of screening all of New Jersey's children."
than 149,000 children were tested in Fiscal Year 2001 (FY 2001)
according to the department's second annual report to summarize
all blood level tests results from New Jersey laboratories. State
law requires that health care providers test every one- and two-year
old in their care for elevated blood lead levels. This year's report
shows that about 75,000 one- and two- year olds were tested from
July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001 - more than one-third of the total
one- and two-year old population in the state.
to the report (available at www.state.nj.us/health),
3.8 percent of children tested in FY 2001 had a blood lead level
at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter, which is considered elevated.
And while the number of children that were tested increased, the
number of children with elevated blood levels decreased by 18 percent
in FY 2001, from 6,847 to 5,616.
report also revealed a continued decrease in children tested at
levels of 20 micrograms or greater - a level where state regulation
requires local health officials to investigate the child's case
and order abatement of any lead hazards that are found.
Of those tested, 947 - less than one percent - had elevated blood
levels equal or greater than 20 micrograms, down from 1,309 a year
ago (a 27 percent decrease). All 21 counties did have at least one
child with a reported level of 20 micrograms or greater.
those 947 cases, 452 inspections were completed, which is 62 percent
of all cases reported where inspection was required. Ninety-nine
abatements were completed, which is 28 percent of the properties
where a lead hazard was found.
is the key area where we need to devote more attention," said
Acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando,
Jr., MD. "There are specific cities where the numbers are encouraging.
The Newark Department of Health and Human Services has made a considerable
improvement in its lead poisoning investigation activities in recent
years. The percentage of inspections completed in Newark significantly
increased over the last three years-from 23 percent in 1999 to 47
percent in 2000 to 62 percent in 2001."
this January, the DHSS will notify local health officials each quarter
of any outstanding cases for investigation or abatement. Previously,
local health departments were notified every six months. If these
cases are not resolved after 30 days, a letter will be sent to the
Health Officer requesting a meeting to discuss the problem of outstanding
investigations. Sanctions will be taken against local health departments
that do not complete outstanding inspections.
at New Jersey's counties, Essex County reported that 8.7 percent
of children tested had elevated lead results-the highest in the
state, but down from 12 percent a year ago. Somerset and Burlington
counties were the lowest with 0.1 percent. Hunterdon County had
the best screening rate with 54 percent of one- and two-year olds
tested. Cape May County had the lowest screening rate at 17 percent.
July 1999, clinical laboratories have been required to report all
results to the department. Prior to that, only elevated test results
had to be reported, which meant that the state could not accurately
determine how many children were screened and the percent with elevated
blood lead levels. Last year, the Department used laboratory results
to compile the first comprehensive report on childhood lead poisoning.
2001, the Department spearheaded several activities aimed at reducing
lead poisoning in children. These included awarding more than $2
million in grant funds to 13 local health departments to support
lead testing, case management for children with elevated test results
and public education seminars. Also, the Department provided $65,000
to the Newark Partnership for Lead Safe Children to support screenings
and lead poisoning prevention education programs.
activities planned for 2002 include a joint pilot program with the
Department of Human Services to make operators and staff of licensed
childcare centers and family child care homes aware of the dangers
of lead poisoning and give them support to educate parents who use
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