Advocates Urge NJ To Do More To Get Rid Of Lead Problems

Mar 16, 2017

Lawmakers and advocates urge more funding for testing and remediation.
Credit Phil Gregory

New Jersey is being urged to do more to reduce lead levels in schools and homes.

Environment New Jersey gives the state a grade of C-minus for its efforts to deal with the lead problem.

The group’s director Doug O’Malley says New Jersey’s rating is better than many other states because it acknowledges it has a lead problem and is testing the drinking water in schools.

“But, certainly we are nowhere near being the head of the class because we are not taking seriously and we’ve suffering for way too long with an administration that has continually raided the lead remediation fund.”

Governor Christie's proposed budget allocates $10 million for lead remediation.

Staci Berger leads the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. She says it will cost more to keep children from being poisoned by lead at school and at home.

"We are calling on all of our elected officials and all of the candidates running for governor and other elected offices to invest in New Jersey's housing infrastructure by committing to put in $600 million including the funding that is being used for lead poisoning prevention right now to help us build a thriving New Jersey."

Every year about 3,500 New Jersey kids are diagnosed with elevated lead levels that can affect their learning ability.

Assembly Environment Committee chairman Tim Eustiss says a concerted effort Is needed to eradicate lead problems.

"It's great we're doing testing although there are holes in the testing process. Much larger we have to make sure that we do actual remediation, we do actual action. This is an emergency."

Replacing lead contaminated water pipes and removing lead paint from old homes are costly, but Senator Shirley Turner says that will prevent lead poisoning.

"What we do here now is going to save us a lot of heartache as well as money down the road."