When Joy Ingram-Robinson’s 2-year-old daughter starting showing signs that she was sick, her mother thought it was because she was a premature baby. “Her fingernails came off but she wasn’t in any pain,” Ingram-Robinson described outside of the family’s home. “I just want what’s best for my baby because my baby already fought to be here: she was only born 1 pound 5 ounces.”
So Ingram-Robinson took little J’Selle to the doctor, and found that 2 year-old’s blood lead levels tested at 5 micrograms per deciliter, which is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reference point for action.
There is no cure for a child that has been poisoned by lead. The damage is permanent, though the extent of the issues for J’Selle will probably not be known for years. Even at low levels, lead can affect cognition, behavior, and IQ, and each lead poisoned child costs up to $31,000 per year in special education, health care, and crime costs.
J’Selle’s poisoning did not occur from untreated water or an unforeseen issue. It came from lead dust from old paint in her family’s home. For a few new windows, some encapsulating paint, and a roof repair, this child could have been spared the lifelong issues that come from being exposed to this silent toxin.
This is not an isolated case. Thousands of homes in Trenton — and other older cities in NJ — have never received any lead safe work, nor have families been informed about the potential dangers surrounding where they should be safest: their home. NJ children are at risk everyday.
Thankfully, this home and about 200 more will receive lead safe remediation services from Isles in the next 3 years. For about $10,000 a unit, we make homes safe and healthy, preventing future children from being poisoned by lead. For every $1 we spend on this work, Isles returns up to $221 to the community in lower taxes, special education expenses, and other societal costs.
Isles also successfully advocates for stronger, long-overdue lead policies to protect children; tests homes for the presence lead and other hazards; delivers education to protect families; and trains contractors in lead safe work and community members on the health hazards of lead.
With public and private investment into Isles’ multifaceted healthy homes approach, we believe that Trenton can be a lead-safe city by 2025. Join us by donating to this important work today.