Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lead Exposure

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lead Exposure

Article excerpt

ON TUESDAY Governor Christie announced he is adding $10 million from this year's budget in response to growing concerns across the state about exposure to lead both in housing and in drinking water at public schools. The governor pointed out that despite recent headlines concerning lead in water fountains in school buildings, a more pressing issue remains lead-based paint in aging housing, particularly for children in low- and middle-income households.

Christie's push to find and allocate more money immediately for lead remediation in housing is a welcome development, a reminder of the pre-presidential contender Christie who sought to meet problems head on, in a pragmatic and timely way. Christie said "as public officials our duty is to protect the public, and that's what we'll continue to do."

The governor pointed out that New Jersey has been forceful in confronting potential lead hazards dating back to the 1970s, and in particular has made strides in testing for lead exposure in the state's youngest children. He said his approach is to continue to put forth lead abatement projects, but to do so "in a fiscally responsible way."

The governor said he would stop short of requiring all schools to conduct tests of drinking water, at least for now. Senate President Stephen Sweeney and other lawmakers have proposed widespread testing. Christie did say he would work with legislators to properly address lead concerns in the coming fiscal 2017 budget.

The Senate bill would set aside $3 million in the Department of Education budget for testing, and would tap the state's Clean Energy Fund for up to $20 million to reimburse districts that opt to use water filters or treatment devices. Christie was less than enthusiastic about a bottle deposit bill emerging in the Assembly. Co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, that measure would earmark 75 percent of any revenues generated toward fixing problems of lead in drinking water supplies. …

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