Should You Be Worried About Lead Paint in Your NYC Apartment?

Exposure to lead-based paint has been a decades-long problem in New York City.

The dangers of lead-based paint gained renewed attention in 2020 when it was discovered that more than 9,000 children under the age of 6 may have been exposed to lead poisoning while living in NYC’s public housing apartments.

If you live in an older New York City apartment building, you may want to check with your landlord or super to see if there is any known lead paint present in your building, especially you have any young children in your family.

Per Local Law 1 of 2004, landlords are responsible for identifying and removing any lead paint hazards before new tenants move in.

Lead-Based Paint Hazards in NYC Apartments

New York City banned the use of lead-based paint for residential buildings in 1960, and the federal government banned the commercial sale of lead-based paint in 1978.

However, many buildings that were constructed before the ban may still contain lead-based paint, including approximately 130,000 of the 175,000 public housing apartments overseen by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). 

At Green Orchard Group, our lead inspectors help NYCHA fight against lead poisoning by performing hundreds of lead-based paint inspections each day in public housing apartments.

Should You Be Concerned About Lead-Based Paint?

Deteriorating paint that has started peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking can be extremely hazardous if it contains traces of lead, especially to children under the age of 6 and pregnant women.

❏ If your building was built BEFORE 1978

If you live in a home or apartment that was built before 1978, it’s important to be aware of potential lead-based paint risks and get an annual lead inspection.

Not sure when your building was built? Federal law requires that landlords and sellers of pre-1978 buildings must notify all renters or buyers of potential lead risks before the lease or contract is signed. There is also a “Lead Warning Statement” included in your contract to confirm that the seller or landlord has complied with this requirement. 

Furthermore, if you’re living in a rented apartment with a child under 6, your landlord will need to know. New York City’s Local Law 1 (LL1) and Local Law 31 (LL31) require your landlord to conduct annual inspections for peeling paint and other lead paint hazards in apartments with young children.

❏ If your building was built AFTER 1978

Many people believe that if your apartment building was constructed after 1978, you don’t need to worry about lead exposure. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Before it was officially banned, lead-based paint was extremely popular. Compared to alternatives, lead-based paint dried faster, carried color well, resisted moisture, maintained a fresh appearance, and lasted a long time. Therefore, even after the official ban on lead-based paint, some contractors at the time continued to use it for years.

As a result, some apartments built in the 1980s and even the 1990s may still contain traces of lead-based paint.

While the risk of lead exposure is significantly lower in post-1978 buildings compared to pre-1978 buildings, you should still contact your landlord or a licensed lead inspector if you suspect or notice any signs of lead poisoning.

Where Can Lead Paint Be Found?

Keep a close eye out for deteriorating paint in the following areas in your home or apartment. Lead dust is more likely to be found in these places because these are considered “high friction” areas.

  • Windows and window sills
  • Doors and door frames
  • Stairs, railings, banisters
  • Porches

In addition to lead-based paint, other potential sources of lead exposure may include the following:

  • Walls, baseboards, and floors
  • Jewelry – You can purchase a very inexpensive jewelry lead test at your local hardware store to find out if your jewelry contains lead. 
  • Toys – To stay on top of recalled toys due to lead, please visit the following website 
  • Drinking water – From corrosion of plumbing fixtures, you can get your water tested to make sure there aren’t lead traces. 
  • Outside – If you work in a job where you come in contact with lead, you may be carrying lead dust on your clothing or shoes. Examples of jobs and activities where you’re more likely to come in contact with lead include renovation, autobody, mining, shooting ranges, hunting, and pottery making.

How Does Lead Affect Children and Pregnant Women? 

Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous if children come in contact with it. Here are some common signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children:

  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Developmental delay
  • Weight loss
  • Learning difficulties

If a newborn is exposed to lead before birth, they may display slowed growth, abnormally low birth weight, or be born prematurely. It’s recommended to test your child for lead poisoning from the age of 6 months up until they turn 6 years of age. 

Women who are pregnant should also be cautious about lead exposure, as high levels of lead can increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects, and can potentially cause damage to your baby’s brain, nervous system, and kidneys. 

How Does Lead Enter the Body?

Opening or closing doors and windows where there’s chipped or deteriorating paint can release minute amounts of lead dust into the air. This lead dust can enter your body when inhaled.

Another way lead can enter the body is when a child licks or ingests lead dust or paint chips present in your home. 

Woman dusts surfaces in her home to keep it free of possibly hazardous dust particles.

Tips to Protect Your Home From Lead Hazards

There are several precautions you can take to protect your apartment and family from the risk of lead poisoning. 

  1. Inspect your home for lead. You can visually check for cracked, peeling, chipping, or chalking paint. 
  2. Consult a professional before doing any renovations to your home. A professional can help you take the necessary precautions to safely renovate. 
  3. Don’t remove any lead paint by yourself. Again, consult your landlord or a licensed lead professional to guide you through this process.
  4. Clean dust with a wet towel or paper towel to avoid causing dust to scatter around your home.
  5. Clean your home regularly, especially the surfaces and areas where your children spend most of their time. 
  6. Regularly wash your child’s hands, clothes, bottles, pacifiers, and toys. 

Need Help with Lead Paint?

At Green Orchard Group, we are a team of EPA-certified lead experts based in New York City with over 25 years of experience.

If you have any questions about lead-based paint hazards, or if you require an XRF lead inspection or lead abatement work, call (212) 219-8261 or click the button below to contact us!