City Council Holds Hearing on Lead Poisoning Reduction Bills

The NYC City Council recently held hearings on a package of bills aimed at reducing lead poisoning in children. “I believe it is a failure and a tragedy that children are still affected in a devastating way, potentially for the rest of their lives," said Speaker Corey Johnson at a hearing. He is leading the effort to pass the 25 bills aimed at protecting children from lead exposure, which can cause lifelong learning difficulties and high blood pressure in adults and impaired kidney function.

At the hearing, acting city Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot testified that since 2005, when the New York Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act went into effect, there has been a nearly 90 percent decline in the number of children with a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter.

The sweeping legislation would expand testing and remediation on lead paint, and crack down on owners who don’t comply with current regulations. The council is proposing to lower the blood-level threshold that triggers an inspection, a bill the de Blasio administration supports. Owners doing construction in buildings presumed to have lead paint also will likely be hit with stricter regulations, although there is disagreement about how to ensure that workers use safe practices and prevent exposure to lead dust.