Lead levels in children are on a steady decline.
Photo credit: WNYC

Since 2005, there has been a nearly 90 percent decrease in the number of NYC children under 6 years old with elevated blood lead levels.

The health department released on Thursday the new Childhood Blood Lead Level Surveillance Quarterly Report covering the first and second quarters of 2018 —January through June,— stating that rates of childhood lead exposure in New York City are at all-time lows.

The report revealed that the number and rate of New York City children younger than 18 years of age with a blood lead level (BLL) of 5 mcg/dL – the reference level used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify children with blood lead levels – is steadily declining. In the first and second quarters of 2018, 98.6 percent of the 180,299 children that were tested had a blood lead level of less than 5 mcg/dL. Of the 1.4 percent of children with elevated blood lead levels, 3 percent — 77 children — were living in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing.

Rates of testing for children under 3 are high across New York City, stated the health department. Among children born in 2013, 88 percent of children in NYCHA housing were tested by age 3, compared to 74 percent of children in private housing.

“Childhood lead poisoning continues to decline in New York City, but all of us can play a role to protect children from exposure to lead,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “If you have peeling or damaged paint in your home, call 311.”

Source: NYC Department of Health

The health department also emphasized how to prevent lead poisoning and exposure:

  • Report peeling or damaged paint to your building owner. Building owners are required to safely fix peeling paint. If they do not fix the paint, you can report them online (nyc.gov/311) or by calling 311.
  • Keep children away from peeling paint and renovations.
  • Wash floors and windowsills often. Wash hands and toys of children under 6.
  • Remove shoes before entering your home.
  • If someone in your household works with lead, wash work clothes separately from the family laundry.
  • Avoid using imported products that may contain lead, such as certain spices, traditional medicines, cosmetics, pottery and toys.

For more information, visit nyc.gov/lead.

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