Lead Paint Still a Problem in NYC: The EPA’s New Rule

In 1978, the ban on lead paint was instituted largely due to health concerns regarding lead poisoning in children. Despite the ban, lead paint is still a prevalent problem existing in many housing units and child-care facilities through New York City.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead paint still remains in nearly 24 million housing units. If left untouched, the paint typically poses no health risks; however, any demolition, cutting, or even sanding, can cause lead chips and dust to be released in the air, creating the potential for lead poisoning in both children and adults.

Symptoms Of Lead Poisoning

For adults, high levels of lead paint exposure can cause high blood pressure, memory and concentration problems, muscle and joint pain and reproductive problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children are much more susceptible to lead poisoning, with unborn children or fetuses being the most vulnerable.

According to the National Institutes of Health, children with lead poisoning can exhibit any of the following symptoms and injuries:

  • Abdominal pain, which is typically the first sign of a toxic dose
  • Anemia
  • Trouble sleeping or irritability
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of previous developmental skills in younger children
  • Low appetite and energy

New EPA Rule

In April of this year, a new rule governing lead paint instituted by the Environmental Protection Agency took effect. Called, “The Renovation, Repair, & Painting Rule,” it sets out new requirements for contractors who are involved in renovation or painting projects that disturb lead paint in child care facilities, schools and homes built before 1978.

According to the rule, contractors who perform work, or the firms that employ the contractors, must be certified by the EPA in lead-safe practices to prevent lead contamination in the work area. Contractors must:

  • Contain the work area
  • Take steps and use techniques to minimize dust
  • Clean the area thoroughly

The new rule also eliminates the “opt out” procedure for owner occupants. Under this exemption, owner-occupants could certify that no child under six years of age or pregnant women lived in the home or facility and could opt out of having their contractors use lead-safe practices. This exemption still exposed adults to harmful lead contamination that could lead to full-blown lead poisoning. Fortunately, owner-occupants no longer have the option to opt out.

Working With An Attorney

If you suspect that you or your child has been exposed to lead paint and suffered any changes in behavior or exhibited any signs of lead poisoning, it is important to work with an attorney experienced in handling lead poisoning cases.