Newly signed legislation will require the New York State Department of Health Commissioner to take tangible action when a designation of lead poisoning risk is made.
The recent revelations about NYCHA failing to disclose the presence of lead paint in some of their buildings has made a new law from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Marisol AlcaÌntara particularly timely, however the pursuit of protections against the dangers of lead has been two decades in the making. Under the new law, first proposed by Dinowitz in 1997, the New York State Department of Health Commissioner will be required to take such steps which will not only increase public awareness but also increases accountability on the part of landlords and other parties to address potential lead paint conditions. Previously when an area was designated to be at risk of lead poisoning, the NYS Health Commissioner was not required to provide written notice to affected residents or conduct a formal hearing if the condition was not remediated.
The health impacts of lead poisoning are well-documented and most acutely affect young children, ranging from neurological impediments and developmental delays to coma conditions and death. However, many individuals are unaware if and when they are living in an area that puts them at risk of lead poisoning. Lead paint was commonly used in homes built prior to a federal ban was implemented in 1978, and lead pipes and solder were used until 1986. Improperly performed renovations, industrial contamination, or old water pipes that have not yet been replaced are all examples of risk factors for lead poisoning.
The new law will first require written notice and demand for the remediation of lead paint conditions that are conducive to lead poisoning. If the notice and demand is not complied with, then the NYS Health Commissioner is able to conduct a formal hearing and may order abatement of the condition and assess a fine of up to $2,500. The abatement and fine cannot be ordered if the property owner is able to sufficiently prove that their lead paint condition will not cause lead poisoning.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “While NYCHA failing to disclose lead paint in some of their buildings has generated recent headlines, we have long known about the health risks associated with lead. Lead poisoning most severely affects young children and can cause irreversible neurological damage. The first step for parents to protect their children is to be made aware that there is a risk of lead poisoning in their area. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important bill into law.”
State Senator Marisol Alcántara said: “Lead poisoning creates severe and lasting developmental delays in young children, and can even be fatal in extreme cases. Thousands of buildings across New York City were built before the federal ban on lead paint was instituted in 1978, and New Yorkers deserve to know if they or their children are at risk for lead poisoning. Low-income New Yorkers are especially vulnerable to poorly maintained or aging buildings that may contain lead, and I am very glad that Governor Cuomo has signed our bill, which I made a priority last session.”