NYCHA may have settled a $2 billion deal to improve living conditions for their residents, but they still failed the children.
According to the New York Times, at least 820 children under the age of six tested positive for high levels of lead while living in public housing between 2012 and 2016. To be specific, the children had lead levels of five to nine micrograms per deciliter. At that rate, the Center for Disease Control and prevention would recommend the local powers to step in.
Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio claims the health department sent “detailed letters” to alert parents and healthcare providers on how to reduce exposure.
Yet no in-home inspections were done because the city follows federal regulations which require a lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter before homes can be inspected and NYCHA is notified.
The larger question becomes, why wait with children’s lives at risk? The Daily News initially broke the story and City Controler, Scott M. Stringer vowed to investigate city procedures in order to protect the health of children.
“It is horrifying that the department of health kept this information under wraps and it is outrageous that the city continues to justify and minimize this scandal,” he said.
Last month federal prosecutors said at least 19 children tested positive for lead, noting “this number understates the true extent of the harm likely caused by Nycha’s violations.”
Lead can be devastating to development in children. It can stunt their mental capacity, hormones, heart and immune system.
Lapeyrolerie says “the city has never said that the 19 were the entire universe of Nycha with lead exposure.”
A health department official says changes are already underway as they’ve begun inspecting all Nycha apartments where children under 18 years old have been found with a lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or more.
All things considered, the larger question still remains, why wait with children’s lives at risk?