When Joy Ingram-Robinson’s 2-year-old daughter started acting sick, her mother thought it was because she was a premature baby. “Her fingernails came off but she wasn’t in any pain,” Joy described. So Joy took little J’Selle to the doctor and found that the 2-year-old’s blood lead levels tested at 5 micrograms per deciliter, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s reference point for action.
There is no cure for a child that has been poisoned by lead. Lead affects cognition, behavior, health, and IQ. The damage is permanent, though its effect on J’Selle will probably not be known for years. And J’Selle’s poisoning was preventable. It came from lead dust from old paint in her family’s home. A few new windows, encapsulating paint, and a roof repair could have spared this child from the lifelong effects of lead exposure.
J’Selle is not alone. Thousands of homes in Trenton—and other older NJ cities—have not been made lead-safe, and too few families know the potential danger in and around their homes. Thanks to funding from the NJ Department of Community Affairs and US Department of Housing and Urban Development, her home and 200 more will be made safe and energy efficient by 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.