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Salem County Gov’t releases statement on high lead levels in children’s blood: Lead paint explained as only reason

“Child Lead Facts in Salem County” from the Salem County Department of Health and Human Services.

Official press release places blame of intriguingly high lead levels in tested children on lead paint on old homes. Nothing is mentioned in the statement from Salem County officials in regards to any other reason for such high lead levels of 853 tested children in 2014 other than old homes’ lead paint exposure to children.

12 cases of  10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood out of 853 tested leaves Salem County with highest rate of children aged 72 months or younger with these levels in the state. However, the 43 cases of levels of lead between 5-9 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in children were not mentioned nor explained in the County’s statement as well.

Due to the fact that several local and large corporations have existed and/or still operate within/around our County and its borders, many claim that such companies have perhaps played a significant role in the lead levels in Salem County. More details and interviews with previous workers from these companies who believe some negligence and long term operations in Salem County by such corporations could be another reason for such high levels of lead in children will follow this article with more opinions and facts from other sources.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s homepage for ‘Lead’:

“Today at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated….”

The site continues stating, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized.”

The press release from the County Office states, “Ten micrograms is the level determined to warrant active intervention.” However, the CDC website’s page titled ‘What Do Parents Need to Know to Protect Their Children?’ ( clearly states:

“Experts now use a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels. This new level is based on the U.S. population of children ages 1-5 years who are in the highest 2.5% of children when tested for lead in their blood.”


Below is the official statement released via email to The News of Salem County at 3:45 PM from Salem County Government:

February 2016

The primary source of lead exposure to children involves lead paint: peeling or deteriorated leaded paint, lead contaminated dust created during renovations or paint removal, or lead contamination brought home by adults who work in an occupation that involves lead.

In Salem County, lead exposure in children is related to older housing stock. According to statistics provided by the NJ Department of Health, based on 2013 US Census Data, Salem County has the lowest number of pre-1950 housing stock – approximately 12,000 units in the state. That is about 25% of all Salem County housing.

The areas identified with the highest number of children with lead poisoning are Salem City and Penns Grove.

Children under the age of 6 are routinely tested by pediatricians to determine if lead is present in their blood. A “needle prick” test (capillary test) in the office may indicate a level requiring further blood work by a lab (venus test.)

According to the New Jersey Department of Health statistics, available on its website, Salem County tested more children under the age of three for lead than in any other county in the state. Salem County tested 93 per cent of all children under the age of three who were born in 2010, according to the NJ Health Assessment Data, published in August 2014.

According to the Center for Disease Control Summary Data for NJ issued in 2014, 853 children in Salem County were tested for lead; 12 were confirmed to have over 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood, 5 who are from the same address. Ten micrograms is the level determined to warrant active intervention.

When looking at statistics it is important to look behind the numbers to put them in perspective. For example, using the CDC statistical chart, Salem County has the highest percentage of lead cases – our 12 children represented about one and one-half per cent (1.4 per cent) of those children tested. Several case anomalies can affect that statistic – such as the case where a child frequented a relative’s home in Philadelphia, where the lead was discovered. The child’s home in Salem County was lead free.

What does Salem County Department of Health & Humans Services provide?

Labs are required to report test results to the State Department of Health, which puts the information into a statewide database. If a Salem County child is identified, a public health nurse is immediately assigned to the case to educate the family, ensure on-going blood testing to monitor the trend of lead in the child’s system, and coordinate with the environmental division to test for the presence of lead in the home.

  • The environmental division will work with the homeowner to ensure lead removal through a certified contractor.

  • In rare cases of non-cooperation, the Department will pursue a court order to force compliance.


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Above graph screenshot from the following link’s file:


The Standard Pacific first published an article on NJ’s lead levels in children on Feb. 3, 2016 which caused The News of Salem County to further look into this issue. You can read that article by clicking the following link:


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