The Burlington County Health Department is partnering with Virtua Health to make sure county children are screened for lead and their parents know how best to safeguard them from exposure.
The Health Department and Virtua will hold a special lead screening clinic and education session this Thursday, March 23, from noon to 4 PM at the Health Department offices at 15 Pioneer Boulevard, Westampton. The damaging health impacts of lead exposure and how to safeguard their children will be the focus as well as discussing the decline in child lead screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Any exposure of lead in children can be potentially harmful and the best defense is timely detection and intervention,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department. “Clinics like this one provide parents with the facts they need about lead exposure and provide a fast and simple way to get their children tested. We hope as many families as possible take advantage of this free program.”
The clinic will provide the following free services:
- Finger-stick blood tests and lead screenings for children 1 to 6 years old. Test results are instantaneous and are the best method to determine if a child has been exposed to lead (children with a positive finger-stick lead screening test should get the test confirmed with a serum blood test).
- Education sessions about the how a healthy diet of foods rich in Iron, Calcium, Vitamin C and low fats can help protect children from lead exposure.
- Reviewing household items and toys to determine if they contain lead.
Walk-ins are welcome and parents can also register for the clinic online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/lead3_24_23#/.
Health officials said the early detection of lead is critically important given the harm it can cause, particularly to young children. There is no safe level of exposure to lead, which can disrupt neurological and cognitive development, causing learning disabilities, behavioral problems and developmental delays. Common sources of lead include household items, such as lead-based paint (particularly in homes built before 1977), dust and soil, antiques, jewelry, toys and makeup. Unhealthy amounts of lead can also be found in some foods and drinking water due to corrosion of aging lead-based pipes of fixtures.
New Jersey law mandates that all children should be tested for lead at both 12 and 24 months of age. Children 3 or older must also be tested at least once before their 6th birthday if they were not already screened or exposed to a known of suspected source of lead.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, 78% of New Jersey children who turned 3 during 2020 had been tested for lead exposure, a 12% decline compared to 2019.
“We know some parents postponed doctor’s appointments during COVID-19. That makes getting tested for lead now that much more important,” Dr. Conaway said.
Burlington County Commissioner Dan O’Connell, the liaison to the Health Department, said the clinic was another outstanding County service.
“There is no greater priority than preserving our residents’ health and safety and this clinic shows how the Health Department continues to go above and beyond to deliver services our residents need,” O’Connell said. “We commend the Health Department leaders and staff for organizing this clinic, and we strongly encourage parents to take advantage of this opportunity to get their children screened or learn more about the dangers of lead exposure and how best to protect their family.”