Lead Poisoning Turns up in Bronx Screening

March 15, 2012
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In January, a family's 8-year-old daughter was one of several children screened for lead at an apartment complex in the Bronx with more than 30 violations for lead. She had her blood tested in a mobile examination unit sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Klein and two local clinics. Her results showed positive results for lead poisoning.

New York City banned lead paint in 1960 and strict enforcement has banished lead poisoning from many neighborhoods. New challenges, such as asthma and diabetes, now dominate discussions about public health. But lead paint remains a serious health hazard in some prewar slums.

Decrepit walls and ceilings painted before 1960 can release lead dust and toxic flakes. In 2011, the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development logged 8,708 lead paint violations in the Bronx, 22,475 citywide. Lead poisoning can lead to mental and physical disabilities.

In 2010, 1,429 children under age 6 were newly identified with lead poisoning, 19 percent from the Bronx, according to the Health Department. The lead poisoning rate for the borough was 3.8 per 1,000 tested, second only to Brooklyn with 5.3 per 1,000 tested.

The number of children with lead poisoning citywide declined 50 percent from 2005 to 2010 and HPD is mandated to repair lead issues that landlords fail to address.