According to an audit released by New York City comptroller Scott M. Stringer, the department in charge of testing day care center water for lead has falsified reports for years. The comptroller’s report cited an email from 2011, in which a manager told their staff members to “enter Water Lead Test Negative” in order to issue permits for the operating centers. This means the day care facilities were able to operate without any testing, putting thousands of children’s lives at risk.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is responsible for testing around 2,300 day centers in New York for lead. However, these centers are not required to test their water before they open, but are asked to check lead levels within 60 days of opening and submit the results to the health department.
Mr. Stringer states that “The fact that the department of health directed its employees to enter false information in an official database is a blatant violation of public trust”. His report also found no evidence that department employees ever checked up to test the centers after they were opened.
However, city officials have called the comptroller’s audit a “mischaracterization”. According to Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, the audit only tested a small sample of day care centers that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene monitors — 119 centers out of nearly 2,300.
The department has also found no evidence of lead poisoning from water in children. In 2014, 840 children under 6 years old were found with elevated lead in their blood, but none were found to have these increased levels from water consumption, according to tests.
According to Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the health department, children are not at risk, and the city has amended all issues that were brought up in the audit. All day care centers have been tested for lead, and the city has planned to post each location’s water tests online. The department is also working on changes to their health codes, which would require testing within 30 days of a day care facility’s opening, and additional tests would be required every 5 years.
Mr. Stringer’s office has responded the these proposed changes, claiming they were only brought up because of the audit, which was given to the health department ahead of its official release to the public. Mr. Stringer also stated, “It should not take an audit to ensure that a city agency is doing its job to protect our kids”.
Read the full article at the nytimes.com: New York City Lead Poisoning
If your child has elevated lead levels in their blood, contact a New York attorney with experience in lead poisoning cases. Our attorneys know how to conduct cases for lead poisoning in children, and can help you navigate your legal options if you believe a loved one has been harmed by lead poisoning in New York City. Contact the Orlow Law Firm for more information.