Just one year can be the difference between a healthy home and a toxic one.

Going after the greatest risk of lead exposure to New Jersey residents, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health have released an interactive map that aims to help the public identify which homes may contain lead paint.

"The age of a home is an indicator of the risk of lead paint exposure," DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette told New Jersey 101.5. "We know homes built before 1950, there were no restrictions for the use of lead paint."

With the map below, you can type in any address in New Jersey to see which color-coded level it belongs to. Homes in "green," according to the map, were built after 1978 and are likely free of lead paint risk. Homes in "yellow" were built between 1950 and 1978, and there's a potential risk. Homes in "brown" were built before 1950, and those homes present the greatest risk of lead paint.

LaTourette noted, however, the map does not account for updates and renovations made to a home since its construction.

"Knowing how the home has been cared for over the years will be the ultimate indicator, but if you do not know, the color coding on this map can motivate folks to have a lead paint inspection," LaTourette said, adding that the tool can be a big help to folks looking to buy or rent a new place.

Deterioration of lead-based paint, officials said, results in dust, which may be directly ingested or inhaled, and paint chips, which may be eaten by young children.

“Children living in homes with lead-based paint are at risk for possibly serious health consequences as the heavy metal accumulates in their bodies,” DOH Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. “Lead exposure can damage the brain and nervous system, kidneys, and blood cells, and in pre-school children, can disrupt brain development, causing lowered intelligence, hyperactivity, attention deficits and developmental problems. And these risks are preventable.”

This is the first phase of the state's online mapping tool devoted to identifying potential sources of lead exposure. Future additions aim to look at other common sources of exposure such as leaded gasoline and pesticide-contaminated soil. LaTourette added that the tool will eventually include all the known lead water lines in the state.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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