The New York Daily News reports that New York City Housing Authority workers have for years performed lead paint inspections and cleanups without the proper training required by the federal government.
As a result, tenants may have been exposed to lead in apartments that had been deemed “clean.” Some apartments may have been made worse by workers inadvertently spreading lead paint dust during cleanup.
Lead paint is harmless when left on the wall, but once it chips, flakes or turns into dust, it can cause developmental delays in children if it’s ingested or inhaled.
To prevent scenarios like this, the federal government, which provides NYCHA with most of its funding, has required for years that workers assigned to inspect for and remove lead paint must have specific training and certifications proving they know what they’re doing.
Improperly conducted lead paint remediation by untrained workers can actually make things worse. Improper removal and remediation can cause lead dust, creating more opportunity and hazard for children under 6 because the dust can settle on toys, eating utensils, food, or any exposed surfaces, allowing children to ingest the dust and introduce it into their systems.
NYCHA has an estimated 55,000 apartments with presumed lead paint that must be inspected every year. That includes about 4,700 units with children under six. A recent report by the Department of Investigation found that the authority only began annual inspections of the units with children for the first time last year, and has yet to check the rest of the 55,000.
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