New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed a law that limits the amount of lead allowed in a child’s blood before officials intervene, which may result in more lead-based paint abatement activities in that state.
The law, signed Feb. 6, requires health authorities to determine lead contamination in a home occupied by a child whose blood tests show at least 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter, down from 10 micrograms previously required.
The federal Centers for Disease Control also recommends the lower limit and dozens of other states have adopted the threshold as well. The CDC updates its guidelines every few years.
Research has shown that there are no safe levels of lead exposure in children, according to the CDC.
Older Homes, Lead Issues
Lead exposure and poisoning has been a persistent problem in New Jersey. Much of the state’s housing stock was built before the toxic metal was banned from use in architectural paints in 1978.
Children are among the most at risk for lead poisoning, which can lead to a range of health problems including development issues, low IQ, and memory loss, according to the CDC.
In 2015, state officials said that of the 200,000 children tested, fewer than 900 were found to have blood-lead levels higher than 10 micrograms/deciliter, but advocates said some 3,000 children tested higher than 5 micrograms/deciliter that year.
A recent report found that nearly 3,000 areas across the country are dealing with lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint, Michigan, during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis.