Mayor Signs Lead Legislation to Protect New York City’s Children



Expanding Inspection Requirements When Lead Is Detected and

Increasing Oversight and Enforcement of Lead Dust from Construction


April 20, 2021
Contact: Chris Dobens, 212-410-1963,

HARLEM, NY — Since successfully championing New York City’s Local Law 1 of 2004, WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT) has been working with its partners across the city to demand enforcement of that law and close the myriad of loopholes that continue to subject our children to lead poisoning. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed two more lead bills we had been fighting for to help close those loopholes and reduce the risk of childhood lead-poisoning for New York’s children:

Intro 864A: New York City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is currently required by law to thoroughly inspect the primary residence of a child with elevated blood lead levels and test all potential sources of exposure. This bill would require them to also inspect and test any residence or other location where the child spends 10 or more hours a week, such as day care or kindergarten facilities, as well as requiring them to inspect all other units in the primary residence where a child under the age of 1 resides. In addition, the bill would require the owner of the building to conduct a one-time test of all surfaces for lead-based paint within 60 days. It would also improve the education and notification given to the child’s parents, including providing information about special education services for the child and posting notices in buildings and other facilities where lead paint hazards are found that alert other residents to the availability of free inspections by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. And the bill would require the DHMH to conduct investigations for the sources of exposure in instances of elevated blood lead levels in pregnant women, and provide additional information to new or expectant parents about blood lead testing, safe work practices, and lead inspections.

Intro 874A: Given that one of the most common sources of lead exposure is the disturbance of surfaces with lead paint through construction, this bill would significantly enhance the City’s policing of the safe work practices for jobs involving surfaces with lead paint or paint of unknown lead content in older buildings. The DHMH is responsible for enforcing these safe work practices, but its efforts are often undermined due, in part, to a lack of knowledge as to where work is taking place. This bill would break down some of the interagency “silos” by requiring applicants for work permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB) to certify compliance with local and federal laws on lead-safe work practices, and require the DOB to electronically provide information on permit applications that could involve disturbance of lead paint to the DHMH. The DOB would also be required to respond within 24 hours to complaints of work that is creating lead dust hazards, be given the authority to issue Stop Work Orders if it finds possible breaches of lead-safe work practices, and require it to coordinate with the DHMH on testing for lead dust and enforcement. In addition, if the DHMH inspects and finds lead hazards in a common area, it will be required to post notices alerting tenants in that building, which will include an explanation of the hazards of lead, precautions for lead dust, and a phone number for getting free blood lead screenings.

An average of 2,233 children test positive for elevated blood lead levels each year in New York City, and we know from national studies that Black children living below the poverty line are twice as likely to suffer from lead poisoning as poor white or Latino children,” said Sonal Jessel, M.P.H., Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “This is beyond tragic, given that lead poisoning is completely preventable. And while we celebrate getting two more laws passed that will help reduce this risk to our children, the real test will be whether the City chooses to enforce these laws, as it has historically failed to enforce many of the lead laws currently on the books. We thank the City Council, Speaker Johnson, Council Member Chin, and all of the advocates for passing these two bills that add better proactive prevention practices to improving the health of developing children.”

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. Visit us at and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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