NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Thursday reaffirmed his commitment to address lead exposure in New Jersey and its harmful effects on public health and child development by signing a package of bills aimed protecting New Jersey’s families from lead poisoning.
The legislation, which will require regular inspections for, and the remediation of, lead-based paint hazards in residential rental properties and require the inventory, replacement, and financing of lead service lines throughout the state within the next 10 years, will advance New Jersey as a national leader in lead poisoning prevention. In October 2019, Governor Murphy unveiled a comprehensive statewide plan to address lead exposure in New Jersey, in which exposure to lead-based paint and lead in drinking water were two key elements of the strategy.
“In October of 2019, I put forth a multifaceted statewide plan to protect New Jersey’s children and families from the dangers of lead, and today, we are taking a significant step forward in our strategy to reduce lead exposure in our homes,” Murphy said. “Modernizing our aging water infrastructure with new lead services lines is critical in ensuring safe drinking water flows through our communities. In addition to replacing service lines, we must also go further to protect those in older homes and apartments where door jambs and window sashes may be coated in decades of layers of lead-based paints, creating fine particulates that are unknowingly inhaled and ingested. Today, we are taking the most aggressive action in the nation to reduce lead-based paint exposure in our homes and communities, which is a critical victory for public health and environmental justice, and advances New Jersey as a national leader in lead poisoning prevention.”
“Lead prevention is a priority in New Jersey and Governor Murphy and I are committed to reducing the threat of lead poisoning in water systems and in the state’s older housing stock where lead-based paint is frequently found,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. “No child or adult should have to live with the detrimental and lasting health effects of lead poisoning. That is why DCA stands ready to develop an educational campaign about the hazards of lead and why controlling these hazards is so important. We are also dedicated to working with local governments to ensure improvements are made to water infrastructure and lead-safe inspections are conducted in all rental dwellings.”
The Governor signed the following three bills into law:
- S1147/A1372 (Ruiz, Cruz-Perez/Holley, Wimberly, Benson, Mukherji) – Requires lead paint inspection on certain residential rental property, including upon tenant turnover; establishes lead-based paint hazard education program; appropriates $3,900,000.
- A5343/SS3398 (Schaer, McKnight, Spearman, Karabinchak/Singleton, Gopal, Greenstein) – Requires public community water systems to inventory and replace lead service lines within 10 years; provides for recoupment of costs by investorowned public water systems.
- A5407/S3459 (Schaer, Karabinchak, Verrelli/Singleton, Lagana) – Removes restrictions on special assessments and bond issuances for replacement of residential lead service lines; revises budgetary requirements for operators of certain water systems.
“These laws mark important steps forward in our continuing efforts to remove lead hazards in water, paint and dust in older housing stock,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Lead is the most common environmental toxin for children and even very low blood lead levels can cause permanent, irreversible neurologic damage. Children spent significantly more time at home during the pandemic, when elevated blood lead levels increased by 29% and lead testing decreased by 20%. We must do everything we can to remove lead from our environment.”
“Protecting New Jersey’s water and public health through rigorous water quality standards and infrastructure investments has been a key priority of the Murphy Administration from day one,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “These new laws will accelerate our work to protect every New Jersey community by requiring every lead service line across the state to be replaced over the next ten years. And, New Jersey residents can rest assured that while lead lines are replaced DEP will be protecting their health every day by mandating all water systems to undertake proactive lead risk reduction measures.”
“The signing of these bills is yet another example of how our state protects the health of all New Jerseyans, especially those in overburdened communities,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Olivia Glenn. “Everyone has the right to live in a lead-free environment. With this regulatory framework, we lead the nation in proactively reducing lead risk. We must be vigilant in lessening lead exposure, especially for our children—the most vulnerable among us.”