Taking the Lead on Lead: City’s Housing & Health Departments Launch Five Borough Tour to Prevent Lead Poisoning with Events All Week Long
From October 22nd to the 28th, HPD and DOHMH Join Forces to Host a Series of Educational Lead Hazard Events for the Community
In recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) are hosting a series of in-person and virtual events between October 22 and 28 with partner agencies across the city to educate New Yorkers about lead hazards and the measures they can take to prevent exposure. As found in Mayor Adams’s LeadFreeNYC report, Taking the Lead on Lead, the city’s robust prevention efforts have led to a 93% decline in childhood lead exposure since 2005. Through events like those planned this week and the year-round efforts and intensive work of our city agencies, the city continues its work toward its goal of a lead-free New York City.
HPD and DOHMH will host two in-person events with community partners each day this week to distribute educational materials on lead poisoning prevention across the five boroughs. During in-person events, children may receive backpacks, comic books, toys, stories, and other goodies. Information will also be available for parents and property owners about lead poisoning prevention and their roles in helping to prevent exposure.
This year’s in-person events include HPD’s Outreach Van, with representatives from HPD, DOHMH, the Department of Buildings, and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection visiting the following locations:
For those who can’t make the in-person events, the City will host webinars to provide valuable information to families, tenants, building owners, contractors, and managers on lead poisoning prevention.
To prevent lead poisoning in your home, it is important to take necessary precautions, including:
- If you notice peeling or damaged paint, report it to your building’s owner or managing agent immediately. If they fail to act, or the work is done unsafely, report the problem online or by calling 311.
- Be sure to wash floors, windowsills, hands, and toys often.
- Remove shoes before entering your home, and if someone in your household works in construction, wash their clothes separately from the family laundry.
- Avoid using products from other countries that may contain lead, such as certain foods and spices, medicines, ceramics, cosmetics, toys, and amulets. For more information, visit nyc.gov/hazardousproducts.
- When drinking, cooking, and making baby formula, use only cold tap water and run the water for at least 30 seconds until it is noticeably colder before using it. Call 311 to obtain a free lead test kit for drinking water. Results will be received within 30 days.
Lead is a harmful metal that, despite declining trends, poses a preventable public health concern for all New Yorkers, especially children and pregnant people. Peeling paint and its dust are the primary sources of lead exposure for young children, who may ingest it from windowsills and floors, leading to learning and behavioral problems. For adults, consumer products and job-related exposures, particularly in the construction industry, pose a risk for lead poisoning and can cause various health issues, including cardiovascular issues, miscarriages, and infertility.
HPD, DOHMH, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) work together to tackle elevated blood lead levels in both children and adults by taking a comprehensive approach that aims to reduce lead hazards in homes, the workplace, and communities. The DOHMH staff conducts interviews with New Yorkers that have elevated blood lead levels to identify potential sources, conduct environmental sampling, and take enforcement actions to address the hazard. HPD is dedicated to enforcing New York City’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, requiring that rental property owners take proactive steps to protect children from lead-based paint exposure. Requirements include:
- Annually determining apartments where a child under 6 routinely spends 10 or more hours in a week
- Inspecting those units and the building common areas for peeling and deteriorating paint
- Remediating hazards in those units and common areas using safe work practices and certified lead-remediation staff and contractors
- Remediating lead-based paint hazards and abating window and door friction surfaces in all units at turnover
- Testing for lead-based paint in all rental units by August 2025
Property owners can find out more about their responsibilities by viewing HPD’s webinar series on compliance requirements at Lead-Based Paint – HPD (nyc.gov). Failing to meet legal obligations can result in emergency repairs being conducted by HPD and billed to a property, civil penalties, court orders and other enforcement actions.
HPD continues to partner with the Office of Attorney General and New York City Law Department to supplement its Local Law 1 litigation efforts to bring landlords into compliance. This calendar year, HPD litigation has resulted in orders to comply with lead-based paint requirements and recordkeeping requirements and over $80,000 in civil penalties related to seven buildings. Additionally, in the fiscal year 2023, HPD issued over 15,000 lead-based paint hazard violations.
For Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and every day, NYCHA works with residents and its oversight partners to develop and implement robust policies and protocols to address lead hazards across its developments, including inspections of development grounds and common areas.
In 2019, NYCHA launched an initiative to test approximately 134,000 apartments for lead-based paint. As of October 2023, 108,236 apartments have been tested for lead-based paint with high-tech XRF testing under the federal standard. Under NYC’s stricter standard, to date, NYCHA has tested approximately 55,669 apartments for lead-based paint, prioritizing apartments where children under 6 (CU6) years of age live or regularly visit 10 or more hours per week.
On average NYCHA is currently testing roughly 700 to 800 apartments per week, and abating approximately 400 apartments per month, a historic number for any landlord of this scale, and continues to set policy and goals that are above and beyond what is required by law.
NYCHA continues to expand its groundbreaking TEMPO (Team for Enhanced Oversight, Management, Planning, and Outreach) Abatement Program across the City, which offers lead abatement to all NYCHA residents and temporary relocation during the abatement process, with priority given to residents with young children. Since January 2023, NYCHA has temporarily relocated over 55 families per week for lead abatement across the City, and this number is expected to continue to rise in the months to come.
While the City continues to spread awareness and reduce exposure for all New Yorkers, it’s crucial to continue to test for lead. A blood test for elevated levels of blood is the only way to find out if you or your child has an elevated blood lead level. In New York State, children must be tested for lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2 and screened for risk up to age 6. Ask your doctor about testing older children if you think they may have been exposed to lead. Pregnant people should be assessed for lead exposure at their first prenatal visit. If you are at risk for lead exposure due to your job, hobby, or use of certain products, speak with your doctor about getting a blood lead test. Call 311 for help finding a doctor or clinic.
For additional information on how to prevent exposure to lead, visit nyc.gov/LeadFreeNYC or call 311. For additional information about the requirements of New York City’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, visit: nyc.gov/lead-based-paint.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. For full details visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.