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NYCHA resident, age 2, discovered to have highly elevated levels of lead in bloodstream

We recently wrote a blog post about a lawsuit that was filed by tenants against the New York City Housing Authority. The lawsuit was filed due to the unsafe living conditions at one Bronx NYCHA housing development, and the NYCHA's failure to address tenants' concerns and requests for repairs. Just this week, the NYCHA is back in the news amid reports that a two-year-old Brooklyn girl, who lives in a NYCHA home, was found to have dangerously elevated levels of lead in her bloodstream.

In 1971, the federal government enacted the Lead-Based Poisoning Prevention Act to "require reduced levels of lead in paint in federally financed and subsidized housing." Prior to the passage of this law, lead paint was readily used in many buildings and homes. Today, the NYCHA reports that 80 percent of its apartment buildings were built prior to the passage of the Lead-Based Poisoning Prevention Act, which means that thousands of New York City residents may be at risk of lead exposure.

According to news reports, the two-year-old girl who was recently discovered to have been exposed to lead paint, had levels "close to four times the acceptable level," in her bloodstream. For young children, exposure to lead can be especially damaging and result in permanent neurological damage and reduced cognitive functioning. The toddler's elevated lead levels were discovered after the girl's mother addressed concerns about her daughter’s delayed speech development with her pediatrician.

Upon discovering the girl's elevated lead levels, Health Department inspectors discovered 19 areas within the girl's apartment that contained lead paint. Many landlords who own older buildings, like those owned by the NYCHA, attempt to paint over old lead paint. Doing so, however, is not an effective way of protecting residents from lead exposure as paint often chips and bubbles when exposed to heat and moisture.

Residents, who believe they live in an apartment that contains lead paint and may have suffered exposure, would be wise to see a doctor and have their blood levels tested. In cases where elevated lead levels are detected, legal action against a landlord may be warranted.

Source: New York Daily News, "EXCLUSIVE: Brooklyn tot has high levels of toxic lead while NYCHA denies paint is a problem," Greb B. Smith, April 13, 2015

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, "LEAD PAINT LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN NEW YORK CITY," April 15, 2015

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