People who live in public housing operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) (the Projects) are finding out that their children are suffering lead poisoning even after their apartments were deemed “lead free” by the agency. According to a report by THE CITY, one family that lived in Forest Houses in the Bronx tested positive for elevated lead levels in their blood a few years ago.
Apartments Not Really Lead Free
NYCHA (the Projects) managers had assured the mother of the child there that the Forest Houses was “lead free” and they didn’t use lead paint anymore. Instead the mom said they blamed the elevated lead levels on jewelry the children were using. NYCHA moved the family to another apartment in Forest Houses.
But that didn’t solve the problem. Her son registered an elevated blood lead level once again. Because officials considered the complex to be lead free, they did not inspect either apartment. However, last month, the family learned the truth: NYCHA finally tested her apartment and discovered lead paint in the bathroom. This is one of 24,000 apartments to test positive for lead since 2018.
In 2010, NYCHA (the Projects) had declared all of Forest Houses lead free when in fact several units still had lead paint. This was because of a program overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that allowed public housing authorities across the country to declare entire buildings as lead free if a random sampling of apartments turned up only negative results.
Ongoing Testing and Inspections
In 2018, after a federal audit exposed NYCHA’s lead paint failures, the state Department of Health sent in inspectors and randomly tested several apartments that were deemed lead free under the HUD waiver program. Three were found to still contain lead including one at Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. A tenant who was raising her children there recalled how NYCHA (the Projects) managers refused to test her apartment for lead saying the toxin simply wasn’t present in the complex.
After claiming that only a handful of children living in the Projects suffered lead poisoning, housing authority officials were forced to admit the truth that between 2012 and 2019, the actual number of lead poisoned children in these apartments was more than 1,060. So far, the mayor’s campaign to test NYCHA apartments for lead is about halfway done – with 67,500 of the 134,000 inspected. Of the 55,000 apartments where test results are in, 24,500 units have tested positive.
How Lead Paint Affects Children
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead exposure can have serious consequences for children’s health. At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain and the central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who suffer severe lead poisoning may be left with irreversible brain damage and behavioral issues.
Even at lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury. In particular, lead can affect children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient or IQ, behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior. Lead exposure may also cause anemia, hypertension and kidney failure.
NYC Lead Poisoning Lawyer
Whether you have been living as a tenant at 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) 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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