Lead has been on our minds since the people of Flint began to speak out about the unconscionable mismanagement of that city’s water system and its effect on residents. More recently and closer to home, we’ve learned about lead concerns in Newark’s public schools.
Incidents like this prompt me to wonder about the safety of my constituents in Crown Heights & Bedford Stuyvesant. I’d like to share what I’ve learned and encourage every resident to take steps to address lead risks in their homes.
New York City’s water system is known for its high quality. But the final steps in the system are the pipes in homes and apartment buildings and lead can leach from those pipes. NYC will provide any household with a kit to determine if there is a dangerous lead level in your tap water. Simply call 311, request the water testing kit & carefully follow the instructions for collecting the water and mailing in the sample. Both the kit and the shipping are free. Taking this action can give you peace of mind or empower you with information you need to keep your family safe.
Most cases of high lead levels in NYC come from household products, such as paint, toys, and even some cosmetics. Older housing is more likely to have lead paint. This may be one reason that Bedford-Stuyvesant has more newly identified cases of high lead levels in children than most other areas of New York City.
Here is an explanation & some advice from the City’s Department of Health:
In Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, the majority of the housing units were built prior to 1940. However, Bedford–Stuyvesant has a considerably larger percent of very old housing. In Bedford-Stuyvesant 21% of housing units were built prior to 1900, compared with 5% in Crown Heights.
Among all NYC children under age 18 years newly identified with blood lead levels at or above 15 mcg/dL, about 75% had lead-based paint hazards identified in their home. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, 86% of children with blood lead levels at or above 15 mcg/dL had lead-based paint hazards identified in their home.
How Parents and Caregivers Can Protect Young Children from Lead Poisoning
- Keep children away from peeling paint and home repairs that disturb paint.
- Report peeling paint to your building management. Building owners are required to safely fix peeling paint in homes where young children live. If repairs aren’t made, call 311.
- Ask your doctor to test children for lead poisoning at 1 and 2 years of age. Ask your doctor about testing older children who may be at risk of lead exposure.
- Wash floors, window sills, hands, toys and pacifiers often to remove lead dust that may be present in the home.
- Use safe work methods to reduce dust when doing home repairs that disturb paint. For information on lead-safe work methods, call 311.
- Avoid using imported foods, spices, medicines, pots, dishes, cosmetics or toys known to contain lead.
- Use only cold tap water when making baby formula and for drinking and cooking. Run the water until it feels cold before using it.
It is my responsibility to be a strong advocate for the people of Bedford-Stuyvesant & Crown Heights, while also empowering you to advocate for yourselves & one another. I hope you will attend my state of the district event, #TeamUpD36, on Saturday, March 26, to learn more about elevated lead levels and other issues that affect our community and reach out to my office if lead is a concern for you or your neighbors.