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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 17, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Rudy

DHSS Unveils New Video to Encourage Lead Testing in Latino Community


The Department of Health and Senior Services has unveiled a new Spanish-language video encouraging parents and caregivers to have children under six screened for elevated lead levels.  State outreach workers and community organizations in the Latino community will use the video to reach families where Spanish is the primary language spoken at home.


The video, called "Si No Sabes Pregunta Que Es El Plomo" or "If You Don't Know, Ask About Lead," was shown to members of the Parents Conference of the Old Lincoln Annex School in New Brunswick on Monday, March 6.  The production was done in conjunction with New Jersey Network, and stars six Spanish-speaking children from the A.C. Redshaw School in New Brunswick. 


Since 2003, the number of New Jersey children screened for elevated blood levels has risen from 172,932 to 196,335.  At the same time, the number of children with elevated blood lead levels has fallen from 5,230 to 4,547. The number of children with significantly elevated lead levels (above 20 ug/dL) has fallen from 832 to 773. 


“The decrease in the number of New Jersey children with elevated blood lead levels is good news, but we must continue our efforts until we have eliminated it as a threat to our state's children," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.  “The best way to do that is for every child under six to be tested, and this video is an important tool for educating parents in the Latino community.”


The video targets young, Spanish-speaking parents of children under six years old.  The goals are to:


  • Increase awareness in the Latino community of the dangers of elevated blood lead levels;
  • Educate Spanish-speaking parents on strategies for protecting their children from contact with environmental lead; and
  • Encourage testing of children under 6 years for lead poisoning in the Latino community.


DHSS will distribute copies at no cost to community health centers, faith-based groups and civic organizations that serve the Latino community. 


The video is part of a continuing effort by DHSS to reduce the incidence of elevated blood lead levels by increasing the number of children screened.  In October 2002, DHSS and NJN produced "Prevent Lead Poisoning," an English language video with children from the Trenton area who performed in rap-style and targeted young urban parents.  The video has since won 10 national awards for its production, quality and message.


In 2005, DHSS implemented Wipe Out Lead NJ, a program which distributed home lead-testing kits to pregnant women who lived in homes built before 1978 in 18 New Jersey cities and towns with high childhood lead poisoning levels.  The kits were provided free to prenatal clinics, OB/GYN physician offices, women’s health centers in hospitals and community health centers for distribution to appropriate patients.


Lead was commonly used in interior house paint and pipes in homes built prior to 1978.  Lead is easily absorbed into the body from drinking water or dust and in high enough levels can lead to severe and lifelong difficulties. 


Children with elevated blood levels develop slower both physically and mentally, and often have permanent brain and central nervous system damage.  This often leads to lower intelligence, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders, seizures, mental retardation and in severe cases comas or death.


State law requires all children to be tested for lead at ages one and two.


For more information or to obtain a copy of the video, call Darryl Hendricks at 609-292-5666.

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