This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would create a database of public housing apartments that contain lead paint by inspecting some 130,000 units.
The effort, which would cost at least $80 million, follows the city’s acknowledgment that 820 children tested positive for lead from 2012 to 2016. We have a lot of questions and concerns about lead paint, so we turned to Corinne Schiff, the deputy commissioner of environmental health for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Her responses have been condensed.
City law presumes that any building built before 1960 has lead paint. And the reason for that presumption is that it was in 1960 that the New York City Board of Health prohibited lead paint for interior use.
That’s actually not true. Looking at the city over all, the rates of elevated blood lead levels are actually higher for children in private housing than those in public housing.
What the law says is that for any building before 1960, the landlord has to do an annual survey to find out if there is a child under age 6 in the apartment. If there is, then the landlord has to make an inspection to see if there is peeling paint. Throughout the year, tenants can tell their landlord or call 311 if they have peeling, chipped or cracked paint
If you have a young child under age 6, make sure that you’re getting their blood tested for lead. New York State requires blood lead testing at ages 1 and 2, and requires doctors to assess for risk up to age 6. The next thing New Yorkers should do is fill out that annual notice that comes from landlords. If you do not have a child under the age of 6 and if your paint is intact, then there is not really a risk for hazards from lead paint. But if people are still concerned, they should talk to their health care provider.