Lead has been flagged as a known health hazard for more than 40 years, but contaminated paint, dust and soil is still a problem in older NYC buildings and neighborhoods that had a lot of automobile traffic during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Complete removal is difficult, and while cases of lead poisoning in children have been declining steadily since the first lead mitigation building regulations were established in 2004, the demolition and renovation of so many older buildings over the past decade has only added to the problem. The city had originally hoped to completely eliminate lead poisoning by 2010. Unfortunately it was not to be. 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.
Lead poisoning causes developmental delays, behavioral issues and cognitive impairment, and young children are the most susceptible to damage and the most likely to come in contact with lead dust- toddlers love to crawl on the floor and then put their hands in their mouths, potentially ingesting lead dust. Recent research suggests that lead poisoning may have been responsible for the crime waves of the 70s and 80s, when children who were born during the height of leaded gasoline use began to reach adolescence.
What can I do to prevent lead exposure in my home?
- Ask your landlord to see a copy of the most recent lead inspection for your home.
- Ask your landlord to fix peeling paint. If your landlord doesn’t fix it, call 311 or report it online.
- Wash floors, windowsills, hands and toys often.
- Test your child’s blood for lead, especially at ages one and two.