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Your Update From Lead-Free NJ

January 31, 2023
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NEW COMMITTEE: Water Advocacy Committee
Join us on February 7, 5:00–6:00 p.m, for our first meeting of the Water Advocacy Committee (Ad-Hoc Committee to the Lead in Drinking Water Taskforce). The committee is being formed to create a space where all interested LFNJ members can participate in water advocacy efforts. We will discuss the development of water advocacy goals.
Register here.
Lead-Free NJ is searching for a community organization that is interested in holistic lead issues and working with underserved communities in South Jersey to join the collaborative as a community hub. Hubs help define the collaborative’s yearly objectives and receive independent grant funding to support lead advocacy projects in their community. Contact Heather Sorge (hsorge@njfuture.org) with any questions or suggestions.
Logos of current Lead-Free NJ community hubs, Passaic County Habitat for Humanity, Newark Water Coalition, and East Trenton Collaborative. Who will join in 2023 as the fourth community hub?
Lead-Free NJ Community Hubs in Action
East Trenton Collaborative
Our Trenton hub leader, Shereyl Snider of the East Trenton Collaborative, recently sat down with a community member, Lennie, to hear his story on lead poisoning. When Lennie's son was in the second grade, they enjoyed doing spelling contests and math problems together. His son was clearly very sharp, according to Lennie. When his son was in the 3rd grade, however, Lennie noticed that his son was no longer able to pay attention, his speech was impaired, and he wasn’t doing his homework. He was held back in school twice—in 3rd and 4th grade.
Suzanne Aptman, Community Liaison, Lead-Free NJ, and Shereyl Snider, Community Organizer, East Trenton Collaborative offer educational materials at East Trenton Collaborative’s Halloween event.
Luckily, Lennie had neighbors who were special education teachers. They advised him to have his son tested for elevated blood lead levels (EBLL). Unfortunately, Lennie found out that his son had lead poisoning. However, he now understood the issue and could take action. Lennie received help for his son thanks to his neighbors who referred him to the Mercer County School Special Services Division (MCSSSD) in West Windsor, NJ. Lennie explained that his son had to learn how to read all over again, and that his reading comprehension is still a work-in-progress. Nonetheless, Lennie said his son graduated Trenton High School on time, and is living a well-adjusted life in his thirties with a family of his own.

Lennie’s story emphasizes how important it is to have your young children screened for lead levels. So many families don’t even know that their children may be exposed to lead and the subsequent health impacts associated with lead exposure. Be sure to ask your pediatrician to test your children for lead levels. If they don’t have a lab in their office, they will ask you to visit the lab as a follow-up appointment. If you live in Trenton and are undocumented or uninsured, you can visit Henry J. Austin Clinic (609) 815-7296 or Capital Health (609)-394-6000.
Passaic County Habitat for Humanity
Important update! Paterson Habitat for Humanity changed their name to Passaic County Habitat for Humanity on January 1, 2023. This name will support the organization’s strategic expansion to serve Passaic County. Learn more here. Website: https://www.habitatpc.org/
Newark Water Coalition
On January 14, Newark Water Coalition (NWC) held an event to celebrate the release of its report entitled “The Mobile Lead Testing Unit Report.” This report shares the results of the research NWC conducted with 300 Newark City homes. The team tested these homes for lead in paint, water, soil and dust. At the event, the team members demonstrated their testing methodology for the audience. They hope this work will raise awareness around the serious nature of lead in our homes and lives and help to expand this research in Newark and other cities.
North Bergen community member Robin Ramsaran attended the January 14 event at Newark Water Coalition to learn about their Mobile Lead Testing Unit Report. Photo taken by Suzanne Aptman. 
NWC is also proud to have submitted a paper for publication titled, "Community scientists of the Newark Water Coalition are a new dawn for community owned and managed research projects: The Mobile Lead Initiative" to the academic journal Environmental Justice Special Issue: Liberation Science: Using Liberation Pedagogies and Knowledge Systems to Build Communities of Resistance to Address Environmental and Climate Injustices. The team also secured funding to open a training academy; purchased a X-ray fluorescence (XRF) gun to continue to lead testing; submitted a chapter to a machine learning textbook called, Mitigating Bias in Machine Learning by McGraw Hill, titled, "Community Engagement Methods in Machine Learning" and are working on starting a public research institute called “The People's Public Lab,” based in Newark, NJ. 2023 is going to be another exciting year at Newark Water Coalition!
On the Ground in Our Towns
Lead and Copper Documentary
Lead-Free NJ Advocacy Coordinating Committee Co-Chair Yvette Jordan is featured in this documentary film that shows the lead effects in Flint and Newark, and is directed by William Hart. Watch here.
Clifton, Passaic, and Paterson Community Members
Can Check for Home Lead Service Lines Online
Passaic Valley Water Commission released a tool that identifies if pipes are lead, copper, or in need of closer inspection for the addresses in their service area. Click here to see if you have a lead service line bringing water to your home. Read more.
$3.4 Million in Federal Investment to
Improve Bergen County Borough Water
Funds will be used to “install new water treatment technology in three wells currently offline from increased levels of lead and "forever chemicals" linked to cancer known as PFAS.” Read more.
Lead-Free NJ News
Lead-Free NJ Receives Advocacy and Organizing Award
The impactful work of the collaborative was recognized by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey in October 2022.
Lead-Free NJ accepting their Advocacy and Organizing Award. From left to right: Deandrah Cameron, Suzanne Aptman, Staci Berger, Heather Sorge, Anthony Diaz, Shereyl Snider. Photo taken by Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.
Community Hubs Connect at the Smart Growth Awards
In November, leaders from the Lead-Free NJ Community Hubs and Lead-Free NJ backbone staff attended New Jersey Future’s Smart Growth Awards viewing to honor Yvette Jordan (Lead-Free NJ Advocacy Coordinating Committee Co-Chair) and Chris Daggett, who both received the Cary Edwards Leadership Award. (Chris Daggett not pictured)
From left to right: Diane Schrauth, Heather Sorge, Walter Diaz, Shereyl Snider, Unique Smith, Suzanne Aptman, Deandrah Cameron. Seated: Yvette Jordan. Photo taken by Hannah Reynolds.
     Learn More about Lead Issues
How Lead in the Soil Affects One of Our Favorite Snacks and the Food We Eat
Because lead can be found in the soil and air, dark chocolate is just one of the foods that can contain lead. Read more.
Could There Be Irony in Lead in Drinking Water?
When the State of New Jersey appropriated funding in 2021 to help child care facilities recover from the pandemic, it seemed to be a golden opportunity to finally address the problem of lead exposure in children. Ironically, that logic may prove to be wrong. Read more.
Call to Action from Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign

Urge Governor Murphy to work with the State Legislature to invest an additional $700 million over the next year in clean water. Click here to send an email today. We need more funding to replace lead service lines, upgrade our stormwater systems, and remove harmful “forever chemicals” from our drinking water supply.
     Funding & Resources Opportunities
Get Help Paying Your Water and Wastewater Bills
Apply to the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program here for help paying your water and wastewater bills if your household is low or medium income eligible. For help, contact NJ Department of Community Affairs: Phone: Dial 211 or 800-510-3102; Text: Send your zip code to 898-211; Email: info@nj211.org 
Take Advantage of NJ Department of Community Affairs Funding for Lead-paint Remediation
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has a variety of lead-based paint hazard assistance programs to assist eligible occupants in remediating and/or abatement of lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 one to four family residential units. Eligible applicants who are designated community-based agencies or municipalities can apply. See the DCA website for more information.
Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program—Update and Reissue
More funding is available for this United States Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. Local and state governments can apply. Learn more.
Apply to Make Your Home Energy Efficient
New Jersey Comfort Partners is a free program that helps income-eligible customers reduce their utility bills through implementing cost effective measures which save energy and money while improving their home's safety and comfort at no cost to them. Apply here or call 800-915-8309. If you live in Trenton and health/safety issues are found by New Jersey Comfort Partners, you will be referred to the New Jersey Whole House Pilot Program. Learn more here.
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Job Opportunities

Do you have a lead-free event, opportunity, or highlight you'd like to share? Email Heather Sorge with the details and get it featured in the next newsletter!
Pending Lead Legislation
Lead-Related Bills to Watch:
  • S280 - Requires DOE and DCF to establish online reporting systems for schools and child care centers to report lead testing results.
  • A799 - Allows gross income tax deduction for amounts paid for removal of lead, asbestos, sodium, chloride, and other contaminants from taxpayer's property. Community Development and Affairs
  • A659 - Authorizes common law public nuisance suits regarding lead paint under State law; exempts Attorney General from certain aspects of public nuisance claims when pursuing lead paint actions.
  • A1892 - Allows municipalities to establish loan programs to fund replacement of lead service lines.
  • A2416 - Requires financial institution that has foreclosed on property to remove water service lines that contain lead.
  • A3712/S2695 - Requires disclosure of lead drinking water hazards to tenants of residential units; prohibits landlords from obstructing replacement of lead service lines; requires inspection of residential rental units for lead drinking water hazards. 
  • S1507 - Revises and codifies schedule for childhood lead screenings; requires lead screenings as precondition of child's initial entry into school system.
  • A4770 - Requires landlords of certain properties providing child care services who refuse lead service line replacements to install and maintain water filters.
The Mission of Lead-Free NJ

About 4,000 children in NJ are lead-poisoned every year. Many of these children reside in low-income communities and/or communities of color and are most at risk because investments have not been made to remove lead from its most common sources—paint, water, and soil. Lead-Free NJ is a collaborative made up of neighbors, friends, families, faith leaders, professionals, and elected officials working together to #GetTheLeadOut. 

Staff Contact Information
Heather Sorge, Program Manager
New Jersey Future
Suzanne Aptman
Community Liaison, LFNJ; Program Manager, Sewage-Free Streets and Rivers
New Jersey Future