Mayor Appoints Senior Advisor for Citywide Lead Prevention
Mayor de Blasio recently announced that Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia will be named Senior Advisor for Citywide Lead Prevention to coordinate citywide efforts to reduce childhood lead exposure to zero. Since 2005, there has been a nearly 90 percent decrease in the number of New York City children under 6 years old with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or greater.
Achieving the mayor’s goal of bringing the number of children with lead exposure down to zero will require greater coordination and planning between the relevant agencies. Commissioner Garcia will oversee efforts at various agencies—including the Department of Mental Health & Hygiene, the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Parks Department, the Department of Education, and the Sanitation Department—to implement the mayor’s plan to eliminate childhood lead exposure, evaluate and strengthen agency prevention and response strategies, and deepen the network of tracking and support for every child with elevated blood lead levels. Metrics related to inspections and findings will be unified and tracked across the agencies to ensure accountability. Coordination and planning efforts will focus on:
- Reduction: remediating and abating sources of lead exposure;
- Prevention: testing and identifying sources of lead exposure; and
- Education: informing families of potential sources of lead; increasing child testing rates.
In her first 90 days, Commissioner Garcia will develop a citywide lead reduction roadmap, which will serve as a basis for agency planning. The Senior Advisor for Citywide Lead Prevention reports directly to the mayor and will be supported by staff and resources from the Mayor’s Office of Operations. Commissioner Garcia will return full time to Sanitation and maintain complete operational control of the agency for the duration of any snowstorm or sanitation-related emergency.
In her current role at the Department of Sanitation, Commissioner Garcia is a key leader on developing and implementing strategies to reach the city’s Zero Waste goal, and has implemented several brand-new programs, including Organics collection and curbside electronic waste. She was responsible for overhauling the city’s snow-clearing operations by changing the prioritization of plow routes, which has greatly increased DSNY’s efficiency and productivity during storms. Before her appointment in 2014 to DSNY commissioner, Garcia was chief operating officer at the Department of Environmental Protection, where she oversaw agency operations—including the delivery of one billion gallons of safe, clean drinking water to 9 million New Yorkers in the city and upstate New York every day. She helped the agency overcome challenges with the Lead and Copper Rule, and oversaw watershed and in-city water quality labs that conduct more than 630,000 analyses of the city’s drinking water.