Lead Exposure and Prevention in NYC

Lead poisoning is a public health issue that has impacted 6,011 children in New York City from 2010-2015 (based on an elevated blood lead level of 10 mcg/dL). The most common form of exposure to the toxic metal is from old paint. Peeling lead paint (and the tiny particles of dust it turns into) is the leading cause of lead poisoning in NYC.

Lead is particularly harmful to young children, and can cause arrested development including serious learning and behavioral problems and delayed physical growth and mental development.

How does the City protect children and eliminate exposure to lead?

New York City Council passed Local Law 1 in 2004 (LL1), which requires landlords to inspect for and remediate lead-based paint hazards in the apartments of young children, using trained workers and safe work practices.The law applies to all homes where a child under the age of six resides.

Under Local Law 1, owners of buildings built before 1960 are required to:

  • Investigate lead-based paint hazards and remediate those hazards during vacancy of the apartment using safe work practices and trained workers.
  • Give new tenants a form inquiring if a child under age six will reside in the unit.
  • Provide certification that they have performed the required lead inspection prior to move-in.
  • Include a notice about owner responsibilities under the law with each lease.
  • With each lease, provide a pamphlet informing occupants about lead that includes a notice of owner responsibilities under the law.
  • Send an annual lead notice between January 1st-15th to all tenants where lead-based paint is known to exist.
  • Annually investigate units and common areas on the property where children under six reside to find peeling paint, chewable surfaces, deteriorated subsurfaces, and friction and impact surfaces. This investigation must be conducted more often if the owner knows about a condition that may cause a lead hazard, or the occupant complains about such a condition.
  • Maintain records about annual inspections and any work performed dating back 10 years.

Following the implementation of Local Law 1, NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued its “New York City Plan To Eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning”  in December of 2005 with the stated goal of “eliminating childhood lead poisoning by 2010.”

While the rate of new childhood lead poisoning has declined significantly in the years since LL1 was enacted, New York City has been unable to completely eliminate this issue. However, with proper action taken by landlords, and enforcement by city agencies charged with monitoring this issue, New York City can move closer towards its stated goal.

What can I do to prevent lead exposure in my home?

  1. Ask your landlord to see a copy of the most recent lead inspection for your home.
  2. Ask your landlord to fix peeling paint. If your landlord doesn’t fix it, call 311 or report it online.
  3. Wash floors, windowsills, hands and toys often.
  4. Test your child’s blood for lead, especially at ages one and two.