The de Blasio Administration today launched a data-based outreach and inspection effort to combat childhood lead exposure. The outreach aims to reach families of young children currently in buildings where lead-based paint might exist.
“We are doubling down on our efforts to eradicate childhood lead exposure through LeadFreeNYC. This unprecedented outreach effort to 100,000 homes will hold landlords accountable and keep our kids safe,” said Kathryn Garcia, DSNY Commissioner and Senior Advisor for Citywide Lead Prevention.
“Ensuring the quality and safety of our housing stock and protecting residents—especially children–is our top priority. This latest outreach effort is part of the comprehensive approach the Administration is taking with LeadFreeNYC to target buildings where children may have been exposed to lead and connect them with the resources they need to stay safe,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll.
“Peeling lead-based paint is the most commonly identified source of childhood lead exposure,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Working with our partner agencies, we take every possible action to ensure that children live in homes that are free of lead-based paint hazards.”
It is the responsibility of owners to keep their buildings free of lead paint hazards. In buildings constructed prior to 1978, the City will conduct outreach to all units and offer inspections to families with children under six who currently reside in a building where from 2013 to 2018 there was a child with an elevated blood lead level at or above 5mg/dcl. At that time, a blood lead level of 5mg/dcl or above did not automatically trigger a home inspection by City officials, but out of an abundance of caution, the City will now conduct targeted outreach in these buildings.
The City will call and send letters to approximately 100,000 households in 8,120 buildings to remind New Yorkers of the risks of lead-based paint and provide information on how to identify possible hazards, file peeling paint complaints to get an inspection, and get a child tested. HPD and DOHMH will conduct inspections in apartments with a child under 6 where the tenant requests one. If peeling lead-based paint is identified, the building owner will be required to correct the condition and may receive violations subject to civil penalties or other enforcement. If the owner fails to correct the condition, HPD will make the repairs and bill the owner.
In buildings where there is a history of multiple children with a blood lead level at 5mcg/dL or above, the City will also canvass all homes to identify where children under six live and attempt to inspect those apartments. This door-to-door outreach will be conducted in 403 buildings with approximately 8,900 homes by the City’s Public Engagement Unit. HPD will also audit lead-related documents for 208 multiple dwellings buildings in this targeted group and, where possible, issue violations and take legal action to ensure owners are complying with requirements related to annual notices, inspections and turnover of the unit. This auditing process is the same process that HPD will use for the Building Lead Index, a new proactive auditing initiative that launches this month as part of LeadFreeNYC, which will target 200 additional buildings each year for proactive audits.
In New York City, public health data points to lead paint and the dust it creates as the primary source of childhood lead exposure. In 2004, the New York City Council enacted Local Law 1 (LL1), which grants the City expansive powers to hold landlords accountable for addressing lead hazards and which helped achieve dramatic declines in childhood lead exposure in New York City.
In July 2018, the City announced more stringent measures to reduce childhood lead exposure and became one of the first jurisdictions in the country to conduct environmental investigations for all children under 18 years old with a blood lead level of 5 mcg/dL or greater.
In January, Mayor de Blasio announced the LeadFreeNYC plan. The approach is twofold: prevent exposure to lead hazards in the first place and respond quickly and comprehensively if a child has an elevated blood lead level. To protect New York City kids, the City will increase resources and support for children, parents, and health care providers to make sure every child under 3 is tested for lead exposure – and any child who has an elevated blood lead level gets the services they need. A new website, LeadFreeNYC, provides information and guidance for parents, tenants, landlords, and all New Yorkers. The website includes data and progress on the City’s lead prevention initiatives and includes educational materials to help New Yorkers understand the dangers of the lead and the tools available to anyone who may have been exposed to lead.
This week, HPD launched a city-wide LeadFreeNYC ad campaign to educate owners on their responsibilities to identify and safely fix lead-based paint hazards in their buildings. These increased outreach efforts further the City’s work under LeadFreeNYC, comprehensive plan to end childhood lead exposure.
Other LeadFreeNYC initiatives include nurse care coordination for every child with an EBLL, enhanced cross-referencing of medical records and birth data to increase blood testing rates for children, programs to help private homeowners abate lead hazards and replace lead service lines, and the creation of the Building Lead Index, a new proactive HPD program that will cross-reference housing violation data and exposure rates to target 200 high-risk buildings a year for audit.