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Poll: Why Isn’t New Jersey Doing More to Get the Lead Out and Protect Our Kids?

The problem of children with high lead levels in their blood has improved, but the situation could be a whole lot better

More than 3,100 New Jersey children are still being diagnosed each year with elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to this week’s two-part report in NJ Spotlight. (More than 225,000 children have been identified with this problem since 2000.)

This is after a comprehensive law was passed in 2008 require lead testing and abatement for all rental properties in the state. What’s more, the law was supposed to be funded with a special tax on paint.

The trouble is, the law may be on the books, but it has never been fully enforced. I think I speak for all New Jerseyans when I say no one wants to see our kids suffering from lead poisoning.

What are your thoughts on the problem?

  • How can laws be passed without following through? The Department of Community Affairs has not set up a system to monitor rental units in one- and two-family homes, basically ignoring the law. The state needs to be held accountable, even if it means lawsuits and fines.

  • The basic problem is that the program for lead abatement, which was supposed to be funded through a tax on paint, has been raided and used to fill holes in the general budget. Enough of this! These funds were created for a reason. We need to create laws that prevent these raids from happening.

  • This seems to be par for the course, and I wonder how many other programs are being left dormant because the Christie administration thinks they are less important than other immediate political concerns. It’s a bit sickening but I don’t think it’s a rarity.

  • Where were the sponsors of this bill to make sure it got implemented properly? This is the fault of both parties. Eight years is a long time to ignore something Why didn’t the people behind this law -- sponsors, advocates, and health and DCA officials -- think it important enough to see it through? The Democrats pass these budgets that include raids on specialty funds. This is why people hate politicians. There’s a lot of grandstanding and claims of protecting constituents, but when it comes down to it, its out of sight out of mind.

  • In the end, it’s no one’s fault. The DCA did the best it could. Money is very tight and we shouldn’t be passing laws that we can’t afford to enforce. Lead poisoning has been reduced; we can all agree that ideally it should be down to zero, but that may be a unrealistic. We have a lot of competing needs in this overtaxed state, and I can understand that issues fall through the cracks. We shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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