WE ACT for Environmental Justice Applauds the New York City Council for Passing Legislation to Address the Threat of Childhood Lead Poisoning in Common Areas of Multifamily Buildings

July 13, 2023
Contact: Chris Dobens, chris@weact.org, 718-679-8542


NEW YORK – WE ACT for Environmental Justice applauds the New York City Council for passing Introduction 0193-2022 today, which eliminates an often overlooked source of childhood lead poisoning by making the existence of peeling or chipped lead-based paint in any common area of a multifamily building where a child under the age of six resides a class C immediately hazardous violation. As such, owners of the property must remediate the hazard and inspect the rest of the building’s common areas for similar issues. In addition, the legislation requires inspectors visiting a residence with a child under six years of age in a multifamily building constructed prior to 1960, which is when lead paint was banned in New York City, to inspect the common areas along their path of travel for lead-based paint hazards.

As it stands, peeling or chipped lead paint in common areas of residential buildings – such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and laundry rooms – is not considered an immediately hazardous code violation, therefore not requiring any immediate action from the property owner. However, with this new legislation, these sources of potential exposure will be treated with urgency fitting the life-long threat they pose.

Even though childhood lead poisoning is completely preventable, 2,557 children in New York City still tested positive for elevated blood lead levels as recently as 2021. It produces life-long impacts, which include permanent neurological disorders, kidney and hearing damage, and concentration problems as well as lower IQs. And studies show that Black children living below the poverty line are twice as likely to suffer from lead poisoning as poor white children.

“We thank Councilmember Carlina Rivera and the other sponsors of this bill for their leadership, and we urge Mayor Eric Adams to sign it into law to protect our children from this source of lead poisoning as they travel through the common areas of a building,” explained Lonnie Portis, New York City Policy and Advocacy Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

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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 and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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