In New York City, lead paint is a real concern. With so many older buildings in the city, it is not uncommon for apartments to have lead paint in them.
A law prohibiting the use of lead paint in residential dwellings was passed in 1960, but according to tenants’ rights attorney Sam Himmelstein, structures built before 1978 may still contain lead paint.
When should you be concerned?
When lead-based paint gets wet or begins to chip, crack, peel or flake off, it is hazardous to humans. Children up to age six are at increased risk for lead poisoning from paint because they are more likely to put paint chips and items coated with paint dust in their mouths. When lead gets into the bloodstream, children may suffer symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain and vomiting
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Developmental and learning difficulties
If very high levels of lead accumulate in the blood, lead poisoning may be fatal in children and adults.
What you can do if you have lead paint in your apartment?
In 2004, NYC passed a law requiring landlords to check rental units (in multiple dwellings with three or more units) every year if there are children under six years old living there. If they find lead paint that is deteriorating, or exposed lead in any place in the apartment, they must take action. If the problem is lead paint, they should get a painter certified in lead paint remediation to fix the issue. The landlord is also responsible for the cost of removing or remediating exposed lead.
If your landlord will not fix the problem, you can call 311 to report him or her to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Learn more here about your options as a renter living with exposed lead.