Lead Paint Still a Health Hazard in New York City

Though lead paint was banned in 1978, it still represents a huge health hazard to children living in New York City. It’s estimated that there are over 38 million homes nationwide that still foster unsafe levels of lead paint – with New York City having a significantly higher percentage of those due to the construction boom decades before.

In 2004, the City tried to curb the danger by enacting the Lead Paint Hazard Reduction Law (known as Local Law 1). The law pertains to all pre-1960s homes and apartment complexes as well as many pre-1978 buildings. The regulations require that:

  1. Owners make apartments lead safe on turnover.
  2. Owners must ask tenants if a child under 6 will be living in the space and deliver notice of the presence lead paint.
  3. Owners must ask tenants if a child under 6 will be living in the space and deliver notice of the presence lead paint.
  4. Remediation must be done by trained practitioners.

(For more info about lead paint and landlord’s obligations, visit the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development)

Lead Paint Continues to Harm NYC Children

Hundreds of New York City children are diagnosed with lead poisoning each year – some with life-threatening high levels of the toxin. Lead paint can cause injuries to children including:

  • Brain damage
  • Lower IQ and memory impairment
  • Academic and learning difficulty
  • Kidney damage
  • Reproductive problems as adults

For years health officials have warned parents about lead levels with a widely accepted threshold of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. However, four new studies show that there is no "safe" threshold for lead exposure. The negative effects of lead on the developing brain of a child "may be highest at concentrations below the current ‘level of concern.’"

Even with all of the laws pertaining to the handling of lead paint, building code violations occur every day. 2011 data from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development shows 22,475 lead paint violations in New York City – almost 9,000 in the Bronx alone. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between the lack of earning capacity and the rates of toxic lead paint exposure with children living in Brooklyn and the Bronx having much higher rates of lead poisoning than children anywhere else in the city. Also, children of African American descent are much more likely to suffer from lead poisoning. Statistics from across the country show that African American children are over four times more likely to suffer than white children.

The Daily News recently reported on one such tragedy in the Bronx. Lisa Rosario’s 8-year old daughter tested positive for lead poisoning three years after being given a clean bill of health. The only change was the new apartment. Rosario later found out that the building had been cited for over 30 lead paint violations yet she had not been informed.

Keep Your Children Safe—Know Lead Paint Laws

NYC officials continue to urge residents to keep all children safe by making sure their landlord is living up to their obligations. If they aren’t, they are breaking the law and can be held civilly liable.

Landlords and home owners must inform residents of the presence of lead paint and all lead paint removal must be done by certified professionals. New York City has created a list of specific steps contractors must follow during any removal project (the Landlord Instructions: Abating Lead Paint Hazards). Homeowners and residents should know the steps so they can watch for signs of contractors or landlords cutting corners.

If your child or a child of a friend or loved one has been exposed to lead paint, call (800) 734-9338 for a free consultation to learn your rights. You and your child may be entitled to compensation for the horrible effects of lead paint poisoning. Don’t let a building owner or landlord get a free ride at your child’s expense.