Prevention of Childhood Lead Poisoning and Other Environmental Exposures
As the most densely populated state in the Union, and among those states with the oldest and most extensive industrial heritage, New Jersey contains a substantial amount of lead, subjecting our residents to the dangers of lead poisoning.
The legacy of lead in housing, soil and water often creates unacceptably high exposure levels to children, adults, pets and wildlife. The Departments of Human Services, Health and Senior Services, and Community Affairs work together closely to address these issues and to protect our children from becoming poisoned. This page provides links to resources and provides information on how lead harms children and what we all can do to prevent it.
Get the Lead Out – Teachers Manual: Lead poisoning is the nation’s #1 preventable environmental health problem facing children today. This manual is for child care providers and teachers, with checklists and workbook materials.
Get the Lead Out - Parents Manual (pictured above) - We have created this illustrated web page to show step by step measures for parents and families to use in safeguarding children from lead. Lead can be found in the workplace, in homes, in hobby materials, and many unexpected places. Check out this page to see examples.
Keep Our Children Safe from Lead - DHS's Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) through the NJ FamilyCare program - also provides lead poisoning prevention materials. There are English/Spanish manuals for teachers, caregivers, and parents, as well as Lead Poisoning Information Packets in six languages that you can download from this DMAHS page.
Toxins are everywhere
Lead content in imported children’s toys and other common household products has emerged as a major source of risk of exposure to this toxic metal. Check the Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys, available to the public at www.healthytoys.org, to see how the commonly purchased children's products rank in terms of containing lead, cadmium, arsenic and other harmful chemicals.
While lead remains the greatest environmental threat to the development of children’s neurological systems, children are exposed to a myriad of other chemicals and toxins that may result in poor developmental outcomes. Ironically, the purpose of many of these toxic-laden products is to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Our homes, both inside and out, are built and furnished with materials that are treated with or have substances added to them to make them more durable and attractive.
Necessities, including our food and clothing, are subjected to chemical exposures, both natural and synthetic, that may have harmful health effects. Common appliances like washing machines and dishwashers, as well as service businesses such as dry cleaners, all use environmentally toxic substances.
These toxins accumulate in fat, blood, organs, hair and nails. They pass easily through the body in amniotic fluid, breast milk, urine, feces, sweat and semen. These exposures greatly threaten our health and that of future generations.
Types of Toxins
Bisphenol A (BPA) – BPA is used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics. This type of plastic is used to make some types of beverage containers, compact disks, plastic dinnerware, impact-resistant safety equipment, automobile parts, and toys. BPA epoxy resins are used in the protective linings of food cans, in dental sealants, and in other products.
For more information on BPA please visit - http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/BisphenolA_FactSheet.html or http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/bisphenol-a-factsheet.pdf.
Cadmium – Cadmium is a natural element in the earthâ€™s crust. It is usually found as a mineral combined with other elements such as oxygen (cadmium oxide), chlorine (cadmium chloride), or sulfur (cadmium sulfate, cadmium sulfide). All soils and rocks, including coal and mineral fertilizers, contain some cadmium. Most cadmium used in the United States is extracted during the production of other metals like zinc, lead, and copper. Cadmium does not corrode easily and has many uses, including batteries, pigments, metal coatings, and plastics.
For more information on Cadmium please visit - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=47&tid=15
Mercury - Mercury is a naturally occurring metal which has several forms. The metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white, odorless liquid. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas. Mercury combines with other elements, such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen, to form inorganic mercury compounds or "salts," which are usually white powders or crystals. Mercury also combines with carbon to make organic mercury compounds. The most common one, methylmercury, is produced mainly by microscopic organisms in the water and soil. More mercury in the environment can increase the amounts of methylmercury that these small organisms make. Metallic mercury is used to produce chlorine gas and caustic soda, and is also used in thermometers, dental fillings, and batteries. Mercury salts are sometimes used in skin lightening creams and as antiseptic creams and ointments.
For more information on Mercury please visit - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=113&tid=24
Fish Consumption Advisories http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/njmainfish.htm
Fish Consumption Publications http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/fishadvisories/publications.htm
Fish Smart – Eat Smart Brochure
Information for pregnant women in English and Spanish http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/lessonplan.htm
Cotinine – Cotinine is a product formed after the chemical nicotine enters the body. Nicotine is a chemical found in tobacco products, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Measuring cotinine in people's blood is the most reliable way to determine exposure to nicotine for both smokers and nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Measuring cotinine is preferred to measuring nicotine because cotinine remains in the body longer.
For more information on Cotinine please visit - http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Cotinine_FactSheet.html
Pesticides - Pesticides are a class of chemicals designed to kill pests (rodents, insects, or plants) that may affect agricultural crops or carry diseases like malaria and typhus.
For more information on different types of pesticides please visit - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxchemicallisting.asp?sysid=31
Phthalates - Phthalates are a group of aromatic chemicals containing a phenyl ring with two attached and extended acetate groups. They are typically colorless liquids used to make plastics more flexible and resilient, and are often referred to as plasticizers. Because they are not a part of the chain of chemicals (polymers) that makes up plastics, they can be released fairly easily from these products. These plastics are found in products such as toothbrushes, automobile parts, tools, toys, and food packaging. Some are also used in cosmetics, insecticides, and aspirin.
For more information on Phthalates please visit - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxchemicallisting.asp?sysid=41
Results of Exposure to Toxins
Exposure to toxins can result in poor developmental outcomes or illnesses, including asthma, in an equal-opportunity fashion. However, different outcomes can be attributed to age, e.g., children’s developing systems are far more sensitive to these toxins than adults, and socioeconomic standing.
Where people live and work effects their exposure to toxins. Toxic exposure tends to be higher in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods which are near old industrial sites or full of older homes. So children in lower socioeconomic households are often at far greater risk of being exposed to these harmful substances.
More information about environmental hazards are available at the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: www.aamr.org/ and the Alliance for Healthy Homes: http://www.afhh.org/.