Federal Agency Responds to LoBiondo Call for Report on Childhood Exposure to Mercury

Motivated by Kiddie Kollege incident, Congressman continues efforts to ensure answers are available to parents of children exposed to mercury

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? In late July 2006, it was revealed that the Kiddie Kollege day care facility in Franklin Township was built on a site previously used by a thermometer manufacturer with a history of mercury contamination and had not been properly cleaned up. While initial testing of the children and staff determined there was mercury exposure, long-term testing was not authorized. In the subsequent weeks, U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Rob Andrews (NJ-01) contacted both the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to request expanded testing of the homes of children and staff at Kiddie Kollege.

Since that time, LoBiondo has continued to work with federal agencies, local elected officials and his Congressional colleagues to ensure the questions and legitimate concerns of local parents and those families in similar situations across the country are answered. In response to a request by LoBiondo, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has convened a work group of scientists to study the risks posed to children from exposure to high levels of mercury, and report back to Congress by October 1, 2008.

?As the Kiddie Kollege incident reminds us, children can and unfortunately may be exposed to mercury from contaminated industrial sites,? said LoBiondo. ?I applaud the ATSDR for taking the necessary steps to ensure children and parents have knowledge about the risks posed by this exposure. I will continue to press for science-based answers for those children and parents who continue to worry about the long-term effects of mercury exposure, and work with the respective agencies to ensure the relevant facts are known.?

In a letter to LoBiondo, ATSDR Director Howard Frumkin wrote: ?Thank you for your concern regarding childhood exposure to high mercury levels, a problem exemplified by the events at the Kiddie Kollege day care facility in Franklin Township, New Jersey. Your interest in this issue has helped make clear the need to describe the impact of high level mercury exposures among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the ATSDR have recently convened a work group of scientists with a specific focus on unique, high level mercury exposures among childre n.?

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can affect the nervous system, lungs, brain, and kidneys. According to EPA, mercury is present at a number of contaminated industrial sites across the United States. Due to their unique behaviors, such as soil ingestion from normal hand-to mouth contact, children have a particular risk of exposure from these mercury contaminated industrial sites. ATSDR has determined this risk has emerged as an important public health issue.

ATSDR Director Frumkin?s letter to LoBiondo went on to say: ?The work group is focusing on specific data gaps as they relate to high level childhood mercury exposure? Once these data gaps are addressed, the work group will use this information to make recommendations directed towards the prevention of high level mercury exposures and the appropriate methods for addressing environmental contamination sources? In addition to this Agency report, the work group will produce a scientific publication to disseminate the findings within the scientific and public health communities.?

Funding for Air Station Atlantic City, New Boat Station in

Cape May Signed into Law

Additional $11.5 million Completes Project to Make Air Station AC Largest Helicopter-Only Coast Guard Base in Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Dedicated to ensuring the U.S. Coast Guard has the resources it needs to complete its missions, U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today announced that an additional $11.5 million has been signed into law for the Coast Guard?s ?National Capitol Region Air Defense Mission,? which maintains its primary base of operations at Air Station Atlantic City. Included in the omnibus spending bill approved by the Congress in late December, this funding is in addition to the $66.5 million secured by LoBiondo in the Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations process for the new mission.

?I applaud the men and women of Air Station Atlantic City, whose outstanding service is continually relied upon to protect New Jersey and our nation?s Capitol,? said LoBiondo. ?As I have said before, South Jersey plays a vital, strategic role in our homeland security and the missions tasked to Air Station Atlantic City underscore that importance. I will continue to support the Coast Guard as they continue to succeed in all that they do.?

Under the mission, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) assists the Air National Guard in the air interdiction mission over Washington, DC. The federal funding allowed the USCG to acquire seven (7) new HH-65 helicopters ? three (3) of which launch from Air Station DC, located at the Washington-Reagan National Airport. Serving as the primary base of operations, Air Station Atlantic City is home to an additional four (4) helicopters under this continual mission. This $11.5 million appropriation will complete the construction of additional hangar and office space at Air Station Atlantic City, along with the relocation expenses for more than 70 a dditional air crews and support personnel to the station. The expansion has made Air Station Atlantic City the nation?s largest helicopter-only Coast Guard Station.

Additionally, included in the omnibus spending bill is $150,000 for the design of a new Coast Guard Boat Station facility in Cape May. More than 50 years old, the current boat station was never intended to accommodate the electronics and service members needed to carry out the missions USCG Station Cape May is tasked to do. LoBiondo previously secured $100,000 for the project.

?I am pleased that federal funding is available to support the long-needed upgrades to the Cape May Boat Station. It is critical that we ensure not only the success of the Coast Guard?s missions off South Jersey?s coasts, but the safety of their personnel during these missions,? continued LoBiondo.

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