The Rahway Health Department has provided the information below to help you understand the dangers of lead poisoning and to understand what you can do as a parent/guardian to protect the health of your children.
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning or lead toxicity refers to exposures to lead that result in illness and require immediate medical attention. It is used to describe cases when there are severe health effects related to high blood lead levels.
Many factors affect how different people’s bodies handle exposure to lead. These factors include a person’s age, nutritional status, source of lead exposure, amount of lead exposure, underlying health conditions, and length of exposure. Many children exposed to lead have no obvious symptoms. Some exposures, however, cause more obvious health effects that need urgent treatment.
No level of lead exposure or lead in the body is safe for children. Even low levels of lead that were once considered safe have been linked to harmful changes in intelligence, behavior, and health. Children are most at risk because they are still developing physically and mentally.
If you are concerned that your child has been exposed to lead, contact their healthcare provider to get a blood lead test. Based on the results of the test, actions can be taken to reduce further exposure to lead and connect them to recommended treatment and services. Lead exposure is preventable.
If your child does not have health insurance, free testing is available from your local health department.
Does insurance cover this cost?
Every health insurance plan in New Jersey covering a group of 50 or more persons, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) and Managed Care Organizations (MCO), is required to cover the cost of lead testing without any deductible.
If your health insurance plan covers a group of 49 or less persons, your child can receive testing on a sliding fee scale (based on your household’s income) from a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
What happens if my child has an elevated blood lead level?
Your child's health care provider will:
Tell you when your child needs to be retested
Provide prevention information to reduce or eliminate your child’s further exposure
Work with your local health department
Your local health department will:
Arrange a home visit by a nurse case manager and lead inspector/risk assessor
Educate you about the effects and prevention of elevated blood lead levels
Assist in testing of siblings, other children and pregnant women living in the same household
Educate about nutrition, handwashing, housekeeping, and other ways to reduce your exposures
Assess your family’s needs for community resources