TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy and the NJ Poison Center today announced the establishment of a 24/7 Health Hotline for residents with questions and concerns about the health effects of lead exposure. The phone number for the Health Hotline is 1-866-448-2432. The hotline can provide callers with information on what to do if their home has a lead service line, where to get water filters, how to participate in the city’s service line replacement program, as well as the phone number and locations where the City of Newark is distributing free cases of bottled water.
Calls to the Health Hotline are answered 24/7 by trained medical professionals—doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. Assistance is available in 150 languages.
“Young children and pregnant women are most at risk for lead exposure. Even low levels of lead in blood can affect a child’s ability to pay attention, achieve milestones at school and may even cause behavioral problems,” said New Jersey Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Most children with lead exposure don’t exhibit symptoms. That’s why it’s so important that children under six, nursing mothers and pregnant women to be tested for lead exposure.”
Concerned families can also focus on giving their children healthy foods—with calcium, iron, and Vitamin C—that may prevent lead from being absorbed into the body. Milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy vegetables like spinach offer calcium. Lean meats, beans, peanut butter, and cereals provide iron. Oranges, green, and red peppers are a good source of Vitamin C, as well as juices with Vitamin C, such as orange, tomato, and grapefruit.
“The New Jersey Poison Center has a long history of managing the effects of lead exposure from a variety of sources,” said Dr. Diane Calello, Executive and Medical Director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Whether it is a child in an older home with indoor lead paint, a person concerned about drinking water, or a variety of other sources, we have experts standing by to offer advice to the public and healthcare professionals alike.”
NJPIES offers guidance on how to prevent lead exposure, the health effects of lead, and offers consultation to healthcare professionals managing patients with elevated blood lead levels. Calello is a pediatric toxicologist with extensive experience and research in environmental lead exposure in children.
The Department of Health has renewed its #kNOwLEAD public education campaign to increase awareness of all lead hazards including lead-based paint in homes built before 1978, leaded pipes and imported goods such as certain spices, ceramic pottery, and some herbal remedies and folk medicine. Posters in English, Spanish and Hindi can be downloaded from the Department of Health website.
The Department is encouraging all state agencies, county and local health departments, hospital and medical associations, WIC agencies, community health centers, faith-based groups and other stakeholders to join us in this public awareness campaign by following and using the hashtag #kNOwLEAD on their own social media channels and by following the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
The City of Newark and the state Department of Environmental Protection have recommended households in the Pequannock water district use bottled water to drink, cook and mix powdered baby formula. Families living in the area should also give their pets should also be given bottled water. Families who participate in WIC can get ready-to-feed formula from the three WIC clinics serving the city.
The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness also provides lead testing. University Hospital in Newark will again offer free lead testing on Saturday, August 24, 2019.
#kNOwLEAD educational posters are available in: