The Real Deal New York

NYCHA finds elevated levels of lead after water testing

The agency randomly surveyed 175 empty apartments and found 13 had higher levels
March 29, 2016 09:10AM


NYCHA’s Shola Olatoye and Preet Bharara

There’s something in the New York City Housing Authority’s water. Turns out, it’s lead.

NYCHA’s CEO Shola Olatoye told the City Council at a budget hearing Monday that officials tested the water at 175 vacant apartment units earlier this month and found traces of the metal.

The agency conducted the survey the same week Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed documents seeking information about elevated lead levels found in children living in public housing and at shelters.

The testing was done “out of an abundance of caution,” Olatoye said, according to the Wall Street Journal. Since 2010, none of the water tested in 100 occupied NYCHA has tested positive for elevated lead.

The NYCHA survey found that of the 175 apartments, 13 had elevated levels when water first came out of the tap, the Journal reported. One apartment had elevated levels after the water ran for one to two minutes, according to the Journal.

Since 2010, New York City has tested 1.2 million children under the age of 6 for lead in the blood stream, city officials said. Of the 1.2 million children, 6,801 tested for elevated lead levels; among those children, 202 lived in public housing. Olatoye said 18 of the 202 children lived in NYCHA apartments that had tested positive for elevated lead levels. All of the apartments were abated, she told the Council.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the city to release information related to elevated lead level cases. Federal prosecutors are also investigating “possible false claims” the city submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. [WSJ]Dusica Sue Malesevic