New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning Release 2024 Lead Agenda

Twenty Years After Passage of Groundbreaking New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, Coalition Releases Five-Step Roadmap to Eliminate Lead Poisoning in New York City

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2024
Contact: Chris Dobens, chris@weact.org, 718-679-8542

 

NEW YORK The New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP) has released its 2024 Lead Agenda: A Roadmap to Eliminate Lead Poisoning in New York City, which provides a five-step plan to finally make the city effectively lead free. Timed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of passing the groundbreaking New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, also known as Local Law 1 of 2004, the plan is informed by years of research and advocacy to address the city’s lead poisoning crisis, which saw 2,557 children in New York City testing positive for elevated blood lead levels as recently as 2021. The agenda includes specific recommendations to close the loopholes and address other deficiencies in Local Law 1 of 2004, which has never been adequately enforced, and adds recommendations to protect workers involved in lead remediation and other construction work.

“Childhood lead poisoning produces life-long impacts, which include permanent neurological disorders, kidney and hearing damage, and concentration problems as well as lower IQs,” said Lonnie Portis, New York City Policy and Advocacy Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a NYCCELP member. “As the Mayor’s Office works to advance environmental justice, we urge them and the City Council to adopt our recommendations because studies show that Black children living below the poverty line are twice as likely to suffer from lead poisoning as poor white children.”

The detailed roadmap includes recommendations to protect New Yorkers from exposure to lead during remediation, as well as to invest in programs and interventions that safeguard children, and – critically – to identify and replace lead services lines that provide drinking water to New York City homes. It also includes additional legislation to strengthen early identification, prevention, and enforcement – three areas where earlier laws have fallen short.

“It is shameful that 20 years after the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act was passed to address this issue, thousands of New Yorkers – especially those located in low income communities and communities of color – are still testing positive each year for elevated blood lead levels, which is known to negatively impact brain development as well as the kidneys and nervous system.” said Alia Soomro, Deputy Director for NYC Policy for the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The New York League of Conservation Voters stands with our coalition partners in urging the City to prioritize the recommendations in the 2024 Lead Agenda and protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers from lead poisoning.”

“Lead exposure dramatically impacts the health and development of children and also impacts the health of adults. Its impact on adult health – causing high blood pressure, cardiovascular, brain, kidney, and reproductive issues – often gets overlooked,” said Brandon Kielbasa, Director of Organizing at the Cooper Square Committee.  “The 2024 NYCCELP Agenda’s focus on construction dust as a major source of exposure is critical. The Lower East Side has seen landlords routinely ignore safe work practices when doing work in occupied buildings. This community continues to face lead dust exposure due to the existing loopholes and lack of enforcement.  We call on the NYC City Council to adopt the recommendations outlined in the 2024 Agenda and help end this long-standing, very preventable, public health issue once and for all.”

“New York City’s children, especially Black and Latinx children, continue to be harmed by the effects of lead paint and dust in their homes, leading to developmental and neurological delays,” said Jenny Veloz, Policy Associate at Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “As communities of color continue to struggle with environmental injustices like lead poisoning, our agenda serves as a blueprint to ensure the health and safety of all New York City children.”

“Despite the threat lead exposure poses to public health, New York City has not yet alleviated its residents’ dangerous lead exposure from a variety of sources in their homes, especially in communities of color,” said Marissa Lieberman-Klein, Associate Attorney at Earthjustice. “The City has an opportunity to build on new proposed federal regulations by mandating replacing lead service lines within ten years. We look forward to working with the City to ensure these lead lines come out of the ground and a swift path to eliminating a known source of lead poisoning is put into action.”

“It is unacceptable that two decades after the passage of Local Law 1, requiring landlords to fix sources of lead poisoning, that children in New York City – particularly those from communities of color – are still in danger of permanent neurological damage from exposure to lead in paint, dust, and drinking water in their homes,” said Jessica Bellinder, Supervising Attorney in the Bronx Neighborhood Office at The Legal Aid Society. “We call on the City to enforce the laws as written, close the gaps in the law, and transparently devote the resources to eliminating lead exposure in children once and for all.”

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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, Earthjustice, The Frankel Law Firm, Legal Aid Society, Lead Program at Montefiore Medical Center, The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 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 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 FacebookTwitter/X, and Instagram.

About Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Since 1944, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York has served as an independent, multi-issue child advocacy organization. CCC does not accept or receive public resources, provide direct services, or represent a sector or workforce; our priority is improving outcomes for children and families through civic engagement, research, and advocacy. We document the facts, engage, and mobilize New Yorkers, and advocate for solutions to ensure that every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe. For more information, visit cccnewyork.org.

About Earthjustice
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. For more information, visit earthjustice.org

About The Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society is the oldest and largest not-for-profit public interest law firm in the United States, working on more than 300,000 individual legal matters annually for low-income New Yorkers with civil, criminal, and juvenile rights problems. The Legal Aid Society also provides law reform representation that benefits all two million low-income children and adults in New York City. The Legal Aid Society delivers a full range of comprehensive legal services to low-income families and individuals in the City. Our Civil Practice has local neighborhood offices in all five boroughs, along with centralized city-wide law reform, employment law, immigration law, health law, and homeless rights practices. For more information visit legalaidnyc.org.

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