Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed five bills that deal with New York City’s persistent lead problem — four of them targeting landlords.
The action comes just days after an ongoing federal probe into the city’s lead problem was made public.
One first bill requires that every pre-1960 apartment where a child resides be checked for lead hazards within five years by an inspector certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. “This process will finally identify the whereabouts of all lead paint in New York City homes before they become hazards due to peeling or construction,” reads a memo from the New York League of Conservation Voters, a supporter of the measure.
But how that information will be distributed remains uncertain. “It is imperative that the city take the next step in collecting all of the valuable information and posting it publicly for public awareness,” the environmental group’s memo added.
The bill also compels home improvement contractors to show that they follow lead-related safety practices.
Another bill signed by de Blasio beefs up enforcement against landlords who have not taken preventative measures under existing law. Building owners who cannot prove they have done so are presumed to have not.
Smaller landlords and vacation rental owners will also have to meet lead-prevention guidelines, as existing lead laws now apply to one- and two-family homes that are not owner-occupied.
Another bill mandates that, should the Department of Health be notified of a pregnant person who tests positive for elevated lead levels, the agency must check the apartment for lead-based paint after the child is born.
Lead poisoning, which impairs brain development in children, has been significantly reduced in recent decades by a number of steps, notably the removal of lead from gasoline. But although lead-based paint was banned in 1960, the toxin has proved difficult to remediate in older buildings.
The city’s building and health departments launched an investigation into lead hazards last year.
Revelations in 2018 that the New York City Housing Authority covered up exposure to lead brought attention to the issue and led to the appointment of a federal monitor.