Actor, activist Hill Harper wants health fund for Newark residents with lead poisoning

NEWARK, N.J. — As Newark continues to replace old lead pipes, residents are left to wonder what the what long term impacts the contaminated water will have on their health.

Now, there is a growing call for a health fund for residents affected by lead poisoning, similar to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

"I learned yesterday that my lead levels was 410 parts per billion which was truly alarming to me because I have water filters," Newark resident Lisa Parker told PIX11 News.

Parker said she lives outside the neighborhoods Newark has designated as having lead pipes, but independent testing showed she has lead in her water.

Parker has been working with Hill Harper, a well known actor and Harvard-educated attorney. Harper, who has done work with residents in Flint, Michigan, has started to reach out to Newark residents as well.

"The first thing that we have to do is test. We have to do health testing. Particularly with the young people because the young people are the most vulnerable when it comes to toxins in water and lead, etcetera" Harper said.

While it could take years, once enough Newark residents have gone through bone density testing to check for lead levels, Harper said he looks to file mass tort litigation. His ideal outcome would be a health fund to pay for Newark residents' long term health problems.

Bishop Jethro Calvin James of the Paradise Baptist Church said he hopes people will sign up. Harper spoke to his congregation Sunday.

"Generations will be affected. Money should be set aside for the generations of things that are going to happen to our children," James said.

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