The number of public housing apartments where children under 6 were exposed to lead poisoning has tripled and is now at 9,000. According to a report on CBS New York, the federal monitor, Bart Schwartz, who is looking into the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has said more children are at risk of lead poisoning than previously known. Schwartz announced on his website that “a far greater number of children under 6 may be at risk of lead exposure than was thought just two years ago.”
Lead Paint in the Projects
In 2018, 3,000 apartments in NYCHA units (the Projects) were identified with toxic lead paint contamination that might put children at risk. Now, after additional testing using XRF guns, the agency has determined that the actual number is three times greater – about 9,000 apartments. NYCHA has been promising for years now to remove lead paint from these housing units. It controls 180,000 New York City apartments and about 75% of them were built before lead paint became illegal in the 1970s.
In 2019, NYCHA settled a federal complaint that it deceived inspectors and the public about lead paint compliance. The federal monitor’s report shows that much more needs to be done to fix the lead paint problem in these housing units. The number of potentially hazardous apartments grew after NYCHA ratcheted up its effort to see how many had lead paint contamination. Officials were also tasked with figuring out precisely how many children live in potentially toxic apartments.
In 2018, NYCHA compiled a list of 134,000 apartments believed to contain lead paint and in spring 2019, began sending in teams to perform what are called XRF-tests to determine the presence of lead. In February, NYCHA workers started to visit apartments identified with lead contamination and ask tenants whether any child under 6 either lived there or spent more than 10 hours a week there. The visits and testing are far from complete, with another 86,000 apartments to go. But, if the current rate holds up, NYCHA can expect to find another 11,000 lead-contaminated units that would bring up the total number of units with young children exposed to lead paint to 20,000.
Harmful Effects of Lead on Children
The city’s lead-regulation code, Local Law 1, lays out a strict timetable for the department and requires landlords (building owners/managers) to repair or remove lead from dwellings within 123 days of its detection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that roughly 4 percent of children nationwide have lead poisoning. These rates are even higher in large cities such as New York and in low-income areas such as The Projects.
Lead poisoning is most commonly caused by exposure to lead-based paint, which has not been used in residential construction since 1978. However, older homes, especially those built prior to 1960, have this toxic paint in them. Lead is known to cause a number of health risks and problems including brain and kidney damage. In children, lead poisoning may result in irreversible brain damage, learning disabilities and behavioral issues.
Filing a Lead Poisoning Lawsuit
Whether you have been living as a tenant in a private apartment complex or in a public housing unit (the Projects), please remember that you have legal rights. If your child has been diagnosed with high blood lead levels, regardless of whether you live in public or private housing, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the NYCHA (the Projects) or private landlords (building owners) and building managers, etc. for damages. Those who have been affected can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of diagnostic tests, permanent injuries, lost income and benefits, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
If your child has been affected by lead poisoning, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our firm recovered $1,162,500 for a child who suffered lead poisoning from paint in her apartment. The child’s injuries were subtle and difficult to recognize. We recovered $162,500 above the $1 million dollar total insurance policy in this case. Despite the judge’s efforts to settle the case for $950,000, we fought hard and recovered $162,500 more than the insurance policy of one million dollars. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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