Part of Mayor’s LeadFreeNYC Plan to eliminate childhood lead exposure.(City Hall Press Office Photo)
NEW YORK —Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off NYCHA’s new lead-based paint testing program this past April 15, 2019. For the first time ever, 135,000 apartments will be tested with a portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers. Surpassing local and federal requirements, this effort will determine the presence of lead paint and abate any hazards found in these units. These 135,000 units were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned at the federal level. Testing will be completed by the end of 2020.
“New York City has driven down the number of kids exposed to lead by 90 percent, and now we will finish the mission,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “For the first time ever, we’re going into 135,000 NYCHA apartments to eradicate lead exposure. This aggressive new testing plan will help make New York the healthiest and fairest big city in America.”
“Today, we begin to aggressively tackle lead-based paint inspections for our residents and their children,” said NYCHA Interim Chair and CEO Kathryn Garcia. “We will continue to accelerate lead testing to ensure NYCHA is lead free and our residents are safe from lead-based hazards in their homes.”
NYCHA will then prioritize developments with the highest population of children under the age of 6, which is the age recognized in the City’s law requiring landlords to conduct regular lead-based paint visual assessments. Testing begins at Harlem River Houses on April 15 and the other seven developments will start on May 1.The first tranche of development to be tested are:
Harlem River Houses
Bronx River Houses
Saint Nicholas Houses
Red Hook West Houses
Castle Hill Houses
Marble Hill Houses
The remaining developments will be announced in the coming months. In addition to ensuring individual residents are receiving clear and rapid communication about results for their own apartments once inspected, NYCHA will report its testing results online by May 1st and will update this information every two weeks.
In July 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new undertaking for the City and NYCHA to fully test for the presence of lead-based paint in public housing apartments. Released in December 2018, the Request for Proposal (RFP) sought the use of portable XRF testing. In February 2019, NYCHA announced the selection of seven contractors to conduct the lead-based paint inspection services. The $88 million contract was awarded to Airtek Environmental, Arc Environmental, ATC Group, JLC Environmental, Lew Corporation, The ALC Group, and TRC Environmental. The contractors are expected to inspect approximately 5,000 to 7,000 apartments each month.
Beyond the testing, the scope of the contracts includes identifying hazardous conditions detrimental to residents’ health and safety. As part of the testing, the contractors will also perform the HUD annually required visual assessments for all apartments built prior to 1978 that have not been previously cleared of lead-based paint. NYCHA will correct any paint deficiencies observed during the visual assessments.
This testing initiative is part of LeadFreeNYC, the City’s roadmap to eradicate childhood lead exposure. LeadFreeNYC’s approach is twofold: prevent exposure to lead hazards in the first place, and respond quickly and comprehensively if a child has an elevated blood lead level. To protect New York City kids, the City will increase resources and support for children, parents, and healthcare providers.