New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning Demands Action from City Hall to End the Childhood Lead-Poisoning Crisis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2023
Contact: Chris Dobens, 718-679-8542, email@example.com
NEW YORK — The New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning is demanding that the New York City Council close the loopholes in existing lead laws and start effectively enforcing of Local Law 1 of 2004, which requires landlords to inspect and remediate lead paint hazards according to the terms dictated by the law. Despite this legislation being in place, 2,557 children in New York City still tested positive for elevated blood lead levels as recently as 2021. Childhood lead poisoning, which is completely preventable, produces life-long impacts, which include permanent neurological disorders, kidney and hearing damage, and concentration problems as well as lower IQs. And studies showing that Black children living below the poverty line are twice as likely to suffer from lead poisoning as poor white children.
New York State leads the nation in both homes with lead-based paint and childhood lead-poisoning cases. While New York City was poised to be a leader in preventing childhood lead poisoning, loopholes in existing laws and a systemic failure by the city to effectively enforce Local Law 1 of 2004 has caused untold suffering for victims of childhood lead poisoning and their families. The New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning and its members have been calling for a City Council oversight hearing for years, and urges Councilmembers to seize this opportunity to take decisive, comprehensive action to protect our children by finally ending childhood lead poisoning in New York City.
“During demolition and construction of our 100 year old building I suffered from pneumonia and was treated for dry eye directly related to dust. I have to wonder if breathing in that dust from exposing layers of paint will threaten my health in years to come. We need to pass NY City Council Intro 5 to tighten enforcement of landlord self-inspection, Intro 6 to set a sunset date for abatement of all lead paint on friction surfaces, Intro 193 to bar peeling paint hazards in common areas of residential buildings, Intro 200 that will require reporting on objections to orders for the abatement or remediation of lead conditions, and Intro 75,” said Anne Hayes, a member of the Lower East Side tenant coalition Lead Dust Free NYC.
“Having to climb six flights through dust – which was likely laden with lead due to the age of my building – to get to a dust filled apartment, day after day for several months, during the COVID pandemic no less – tenant protection was a low priority during the process. It was stressful. That’s why I support these bills, they will help so many tenants who have gone through what I’ve gone through,” said Don Taylor, a member of the tenant coalition Lead Dust Free NYC.
“It is imperative that we put forth policy solutions that protect our children from the harmful effects of lead poisoning,” said New York City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “This package of bills continues the work our predecessors began in the 1980s to improve the public health conditions of families in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.”
“It is the City’s responsibility to protect its children from poisonous lead, which has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown and low-income communities,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “I thank the NYCCELP for their tireless advocacy, and I am proud to co-sponsor the slate of bills the Housing and Buildings Committee will hear today to address this issue. All New Yorkers deserve the right to live without worrying about lead in their homes.”
“We cannot expect our children to thrive while attempting to survive in unsafe living conditions. Lead poisoning disproportionately impacts our Black and Brown children who are twice as likely to suffer negative health effects if they live below the poverty line,” said New York City Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. “Part of our duty to protect tenants and ensure safe housing means enforcing lead paint standards across the city. Our agencies have struggled to enforce Local Law 1 of 2004, and it is time that we revisit the conversation to bring in safe labor practices during the renovation process and fund agencies to follow up on building inspections.”
“No child should suffer from childhood lead poisoning. I urge my fellow council members to join me in taking swift and bold action to put an end to this crisis,” said New York City Council Member James F. Gennaro, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, Resiliency, & Waterfronts. “We need to enforce existing laws and help close the loopholes that have let our city’s children be poisoned by toxic lead paint for far too long.”
“New York is home to over one hundred billionaires and the site of literally billions of financial transactions every single day. There is absolutely no excuse for us to have childhood lead exposure rates five to six times higher than those in Flint, Michigan at the peak of its water crisis. It is a disgrace that merely being a child in one of New York’s poor and working class families of color so dramatically increases your likelihood of lead poisoning and its many awful results. We have more than enough resources to solve this issue and be the safest, healthiest city and state in the world,” said New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán.
“It is for shame that in the year 2023, children are still being exposed to and poisoned by lead in the wealthiest city in the richest country on earth,” said New York City Council Member Alexa Avilés. “We need to know why the progress to end lead poisoning in New York City has stalled and how we can achieve a lead-free City once and for all. I am thankful to the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning for their advocacy and look forward to getting answers at this joint oversight hearing.”
“Although the City has made tremendous progress on reducing the risk of lead-based paint, the City continues to have a code enforcement problem,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “We are nearly two decades out from Local Law 1 of 2004 which tasked the City with ending childhood lead exposure, but we are still far from meeting that goal. We need to close the remaining loopholes, scale up the collection of fines from negligent landlords, and continue breaking down the siloes between government agencies tasked with this critical work.”
“The conversation we’re having is not one of passing a law, but about enforcing an already existing one that will reduce childhood lead poisoning,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Closing loopholes in existing lead laws that hold landlords accountable to inspect and remediate lead paint hazards mean less children that will test positive for elevated blood levels each year – numbers that disproportionately impact Black children living below the poverty line. I urge the City Council to act with NYCCELP and protect our children now.”
“A child can never recover from lead poisoning, which causes neurological and health-related permanent damages. Yet nearly 20 years after passing nation-leading legislation in Local Law 1 of 2004, we still live in a City where thousands of children are poisoned each year in accordance with their zip codes and skin color. Black, Latino, and Asian children account for over 80% of newly identified cases of lead poisoning in children under six years old, and our state has more known cases of children with elevated blood levels in the nation. As the Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, I join my colleagues in taking this issue with the seriousness it deserves. The work is not done until no child is poisoned and we will continue to work to ensure every child in New York City can grow up in a safe and healthy home,” said New York City Council Member Pierina Sanchez.
“In 2004, Local Law 1 paved the way to end childhood lead poisoning. However, more needs to be done to ensure that children — especially children of color — are safe from the harmful and dangerous effects of lead poisoning,” said Jenny Veloz, Policy Associate for Citizens’ Committee for Children. “The package of lead bills being heard today, which strengthen enforcement and closes loopholes in current lead laws, will go a long way toward improving the health and quality of life for children throughout New York City.”
“Childhood lead poisoning is preventable and it is shameful that nearly 20 years after Local Law 1 was passed to address this issue, thousands of New York City children annually are still testing positive for elevated blood lead levels,” said Alia Soomro, Deputy Director of New York City Policy for the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The New York League of Conservation Voters stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners in the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning to demand that the City Council prioritize the health of our children and finally take strong action to put an end to this unnecessary public health crisis.”
NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, said: “As nurses, we see firsthand the harm that lead poisoning causes children, especially low-income and Black and Brown children in environmental justice communities, where environmental hazards contribute to unacceptable health disparities. Fortunately, the New York City Council has the opportunity to address this injustice and improve the life-long health of residents by closing the loopholes in existing lead laws. The time is now.”
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About the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning
The New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP) is a coalition of advocates, doctors, and lawyers who first came together in the 1980s to create and pass Local Law 1 of 2004. Now, NYCCELP convenes the Lead Roundtable of advocates focused on closing loopholes in Local Law 1 and ensuring lead laws are adequately implemented and enforced. Members include: Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Cooper Square Committee, The Frankel Law Firm, Legal Aid Society, Lead Program at Montefiore Medical Center, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
About the New York League of Conservation Voters
The New York League of Conservation Voters is the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fight for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. For thirty years, NYLCV has worked to lobby state and local governments on environmental policy, provide objective information to the public, and hold elected officials accountable. For more information, visit www.nylcv.org.
About Cooper Square Committee The Cooper Square Committee (CSC)
CSC works with area residents to contribute to the preservation and development of affordable, environmentally healthy housing and community/cultural spaces so that the Cooper Square area remains racially, economically, and culturally diverse. The Cooper Square Committee has spearheaded significant neighborhood victories in its history, comprising 60+ years of tenant organizing, community-based planning, advocacy and development. It relies on the active involvement of its members in the organization’s work to advance its affordable housing agenda.
About WE ACT for Environmental Justice
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 and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.