Williamsburg and Boro Park Had the Highest Lead Blood Level Rates in Children in 2018

(JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)

New York City’s Department of Health has released a report of the number of children who have high levels of lead in their blood. Williamsburg and Boro Park have unfortunately retained their spot as the areas with the highest percentage of children tested who were found to have lead levels of over five micrograms per deciliter.

Nevertheless, Williamsburg saw a slight reduction in the percentage of children with these sorts of high lead blood levels, as it is reduced to 4 percent as opposed to 4 and a half percent 2017.

4,200 children up to the age of six were tested for lead last year in Greenpoint, which for this report includes the neighborhood of Old Williamsburg. 172 of those children, or just over 4 percent, had a blood lead level of 5 or more micrograms per deciliter.

The children with these high lead blood levels, his rate is the highest of all areas in the entire city, were concentrated in the Jewish areas of Williamsburg.

The area with the second worst levels Boro Park, where 518 out of 16,000 children under the age of six tested, 3 and a quarter percent, had lead levels of 5 or more micrograms per deciliter. This rate is more than double the rest of the city in general, where less than 1 and a half percent of all children tested had such high blood lead levels.

Williamsburg saw a small increase in the number of children who had the tests—4,200 compared to 3,900 in 2017. The law dictates — and health experts are calling on parents — to make sure that every child takes the lead blood test at one or two years old. Parents should also make sure to ask for the results of the test.

A separate report from the Department of Health, which aired last month, states that in the first half of the current calendar year, the number of children under six who had lead blood levels higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter was reduced by 10 percent compared to the same time in the previous year. The department indicated that since 2005, the number was reduced by nearly 90 percent.

Studies have shown that children with lead in their blood are in danger of suffering developmental problems c”v, and it may lead to a lowered IQ. No amount of lead is healthy, and the higher the rate is, the more harmful it is likely to be. Excessively high levels could be extremely dangerous.

Most lead problems in New York City come from the dust of peeling or cracked paint in old houses, built before 1960, when lead paint was used. Landlords of houses with three or more units and are home to children aged six and younger are required by law to inspect their units at least once a year. If they have peeling or cracked paint, they must be fixed by certified workers to ensure that the lead paint is removed in a safe, secure fashion.

Residents of older apartments who see peeling paint in their apartments should speak to their landlords and request that it be fixed by certified workers using safe methods, which includes the cleaning of the area to avoid dust. Residents of such apartments should also wash their floors often, as well as windowsills, their hands, toys, and pacifiers. In addition, they should allow water in the sink to run until cold before making a bottle for a baby or using it for cooking or drinking.

Landlords can benefit from assistance in correcting lead issues in their apartments. HPD has a grant for landlords that provides a contractor to fix apartments, going as high as $10,000 per apartment or higher to fix lead issues. Houses with low-income residents are eligible.

The United Jewish Organization has already helped with the application of this grant for tens of apartments in the neighborhood. The UJO has been working with the Department of Health for several years now to make residents aware of the harmfulness of lead and the steps to take to help reduce the dangers. This past year, the Boro Park JCC has also begun offering Lead Safety services in collaboration with the UJO.

Residents and landlords who want information on how lead paint must be corrected can call 311. For additional information on correcting lead issues, questions about receiving your child’s lead blood test, assistance for landlords in applying for the grants, or to add your name to a list for taking part in training to become certified to fix lead issues, call the UJO at 718-643-9700, ext. 502, or email leadsafety@unitedjewish.org. In Boro Park, call Mrs. Sivan at the JCC of Boro Park at 718-972-6600, ext. 4615, or email NSivan@bpjcc.org.

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