On April 15, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Interim Chair and CEO Kathryn Garcia and General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo at the Williamsburg Community Center in Brooklyn to kick off NYCHA’s new lead-based paint testing program. For the first time ever, 135,000 apartments will be tested with portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers. Surpassing local and federal requirements, this effort will determine the presence of lead paint and abate any hazards found in these units. The 135,000 units were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned at the federal level. Testing will be completed by the end of 2020.
“Today, we begin to aggressively tackle lead-based paint inspections for our residents and their children,” said Interim Chair and CEO Kathryn Garcia. “We will continue to accelerate lead testing to ensure NYCHA is lead free and our residents are safe from lead-based hazards in their homes.”
Testing begins at Harlem River Houses on April 15, and will start on May 1 at seven additional developments: Williamsburg, Bronx River, Saint Nicholas, Johnson, Red Hook West, Castle Hill, and Marble Hill Houses. NYCHA will then prioritize developments with the highest population of children under the age of 6, which is the age recognized in the City’s law that requires landlords to conduct regular lead-based paint visual assessments. The remaining developments will be announced in the coming months.
Residents will receive a copy of the testing results for their apartment. NYCHA will also put the testing results on its website by May 1, updating this information every two weeks.
In July 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new undertaking for the City and NYCHA to fully test for the presence of lead-based paint in public housing apartments. Released in December 2018, the Request for Proposal (RFP) sought the use of portable XRF testing. In February 2019, NYCHA announced the selection of seven contractors to conduct the lead-based paint inspection services. The $88 million contract was awarded to Airtek Environmental, Arc Environmental, ATC Group, JLC Environmental, Lew Corporation, The ALC Group, and TRC Environmental. The contractors are expected to inspect approximately 5,000 to 7,000 apartments each month.
As part of the testing, the contractors will also perform visual assessments for all apartments built prior to 1978 that have not been previously cleared of lead-based paint. NYCHA will correct any paint deficiencies observed during the visual assessments. Beyond the testing, the contractors will also identify other conditions in the apartments that need to be repaired.
This testing initiative is part of LeadFreeNYC, the City’s roadmap to eradicate childhood lead exposure. LeadFreeNYC’s approach is to prevent exposure to lead hazards in the first place, and to respond quickly and comprehensively if a child has an elevated blood lead level. To protect New York City kids, the City will increase resources and support for children, parents, and healthcare providers.