The New York City Council recently passed five new bills aimed at preventing exposure to dangerous lead hazards. It is the latest victory in the NYC Coalition To End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP)’s effort to strengthen NYC lead laws and end childhood lead poisoning once and for all. It is also the second package of lead prevention bills passed under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson.
The bills target lead hazards for children and pregnant persons in homes, daycares, schools, and playgrounds. NYLCV, as a member of NYCCELP, has been working with City Council on this issue since our Lead Loopholes Report was released in 2018, and many of the recommendations from that report have now been adopted into law, including some in the bills that passed last week.
The new laws will cover the following:
Requires the Parks Department to test for lead levels in certain areas of parks that contain exposed soil whenever a capital project occurs. If the test indicates that a bare soil area has a lead level at or above the federal standard, DPR must cover, replace or remediate the lead in the area.
Requires schools to now conduct inspections for lead-based paint hazards at least three times per year, and expanded those requirements beyond classrooms to also include common areas such as libraries, cafeterias, and gyms. The results of those inspections will be publicly available and delivered to parents or guardians.
This bill also strengthens enforcement against landlords who failed to take the required preventative measures required under existing lead laws. A key recommendation from the Lead Loopholes report, the bill establishes a presumption that if a building owner is unable to provide a record of having completed required lead hazard preventive measures, they did not do the work and will be issued a violation of the relevant provisions. This is a significant step forward and victory for our coalition and all New Yorkers.
Expands the requirements of NYC’s existing lead laws to also cover 1-2 family homes that are not owner-occupied. This approach was announced by Mayor de Blasio as part of his LeadFreeNYC plan released last year, and this bill now makes that requirement law.
Under this bill, if the NYC Department of Health (DOHMH) is notified of a pregnant person with an elevated blood lead level, they must conduct an investigation to identify potential sources, and after the birth of the child, monitor them for elevated blood lead levels and assess whether the apartment where the child resides contains any lead-based paint or unsafe lead paint. The bill would also increase outreach to new and expecting parents about lead hazards and laws.
Requires a thorough inspection by an EPA-certified inspector of every child occupied pre-1960 residential unit within the next five years. It also requires home improvement contractors to show that they are EPA-certified and prepared to follow lead-related safe work practices. This process will finally identify the whereabouts of all lead paint in NYC homes before they become hazards due to peeling or construction. It is imperative that the City take the next step in collecting all of the valuable information and posting it publicly for public awareness.
NYLCV is grateful to the NYC Council and Speaker Johnson for the notable focus and progress on this issue. More must be done to eliminate childhood lead poisoning altogether, so you can count on NYLCV to continue working with NYCCELP to move this effort forward.