New York Today: Understanding the Risks of Lead Paint

Thursday: a Q. and A. with the health department, and your U.S. Open memories.

Comments: 21

  1. NYT might elaborate on the actual risks of lead exposure for small children. Lead affects neurological development in the brain, causing actual permanent damage. Irreversible. Younger children are playing on the floor and climbing on surfaces, putting their fingers in their mouths and washing hands only when assisted, and so are getting much higher exposure than older children and adults, even without peeling paint. Lead exposure is no joke, those with young children should be vigilant. Annual blood testing is a good start.

  2. If lead paint is not peeling or crumbling (usually it isn't, because the reason lead compounds were included in paint was to make it adhere better), the worst thing you can do is to try to remove it. That spreads small particles that are likely to be ingested.

    Simply paint it over with non-toxic paint.

    The levels of lead in the blood that are considered of concern today, 5 or 10 micrograms/dl, are actually below the national average (14 micrograms/dl) in the 1970s. Lower is better and zero is best, but it is unlikely those levels are causing any harm. Was the average child in the 1970's damaged by lead?

  3. The reason why kids are showing elevated levels of lead is because they eat the lead paint chips.

    For starters let's get their irresponsible parents to take precautionary measures.

    Landlords, be it the City or otherwise, should be required to safely remove lead paint starting with the worst cases where the paint is peeling and chipping. Now we're going to need many of those immigrants, you know, the guys who stand around outside Home Depot looking for work.

  4. "For starters let's get their irresponsible parents to take precautionary measures."

    It's hard to imagine most parents thinking, "Oh, what's a little permanent neurological damage?" Toddlers have to be watched, constantly.

  5. The question is not whether deBlasio crossed the border illegially, but who was responsible for letting him back in the country at all.

  6. A Bill de Blasio photo op? I'll say!

    Look at his new little sideburn in the photograph. It's like Yasser Arafat's beard.

    Sigh. Corrupt, pandering revolutionaries and their hair . . . .

  7. Good sharp point, alocksley! :). It’s odd that the Mayor is characteristically befuddled that his action is questioned. And yet the attention seems out of proportion, as if it’s being used as a proverbial shiny object being used to draw attention away from the real story!

    Tune of “Uncle Albert (Hands Across the Water)”

    We're so sorry, Emma Lazarus,
    That we made a mess of what you had to say.
    We're so sorry, Emma Lazarus
    We’ve no choice but to distract
    From your prayer for the U.S.A.

    White House to press:
    (Hey, look at that distracting shiny object over there!)

    Mayor has crossed the border, border
    What’s up with that guy?
    Mayor has crossed the border, border
    Call the F.B.I.

    Border Patrol has notified me
    We must distract from what press can see
    Let’s change the topic to one that we
    Can publicize.

    Mayor has crossed the border, border
    What’s up with that guy?
    Mayor has crossed the border, border
    Press, go find out why.

  8. Would it be so challenging to have landlords be required to paint over any lead paint in any apartment with a child under 6 in residence?

    An added upside is that once it's painted over, it's pretty much good to go for awhile. One should still check it yearly as recommended, but there's less risk for a curious toddler to consume some accidental lead paint flecks that may have been too small to be observed as "chipping or flaking" (toddlers put their mouths on EVERYTHING). Removing the paint altogether would be even better, but it can be dangerous if done improperly, and extremely time consuming. It would also probably leave a family with a small child without anywhere to stay for awhile, which could have an equally bad impact as minuscule amounts of lead.

  9. Why in the year 2018 is this still a problem, especially in government funded housing? Any 50-somethings out there (like me) that remember the "pica" TV commercials from the 1960s warning of this? Yet another failure of our elected officials.

  10. I remember the articles about brain damage to children.

    I also remember the vigorous anti-smoking campaigns in the schools. I can't believe that people still smoke. Back in the 1960s, there was still some waffling about the danger of smoking. Now the harm is a certainty. Yet I see young people lighting up.

  11. What is the percentage of housing in the U.S. that is painted with lead based paint. Probably more than 50%. How many children actually eat peeling paint? The percentage is probably very small. If we actually analyzed this we would probably find that lead poisoning from paint is a tempest in a teapot. What we should be doing is analyzing the lead in both aging and newer water pipes. Based on some tests in my own home, which was built in 1981, this is the more likely source of lead being ingested, not only by children, but adults as well. My advice is to forget about the paint and start paying attention to the water.

  12. I live in an older building with ancient pipes and try to drink bottled or filtered water as much as possible. (In addition, NYC water doesn't taste as good as it once did. It reeks of chemicals.)

    Once, when some young plumbers were in to do some work, I mentioned this practice, half-expecting them to scoff. They said they'd drink bottled water, too.

  13. I can't believe that lead paint is still an issue. It was a concern back in the 1960s when I was a kid.

    Is the problem that children eat the paint chips, or that the chips release lead into the air that is breathed by children, who, being smaller than adults, are endangered by it?

  14. The REAL issue here is the entire lot of obsolete housing "prisons" that are 50+ years old, designed by the Racist Robert Moses to deny New Yorkers of Color the right to a healthy living environment. These OLD, DEAD UNITS need to be removed replaced with new Housing units: AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS for low-income and middle income families. We all know too well the fetish NYC has with Super Over Priced High-rise Apartment Buildings that maybe .015% are dedicated to the average New Yorker.

  15. Dr. John Rosen was the passionate proponent for stricter lead laws in NYC which ultimately came to be known as "Local Law 1" and served as the forerunner and model for our national program. I knew John and engaged in a correspondence with him that pointed out that it was particulate lead that was most prone to being airborne, and further that the locations he studied that had the most 'hot spots' of high lead content also coincided with major traffic arteries, pointing to two other major lead vectors: leaded gas, and bridges and tunnels primed with rust inhibiting paint with high lead content.

    We have eliminated lead from gas additives. There is still a lot of lead paint lurking in aged infrastructure and older housing. The greatest danger of lead poisoning children comes from disturbing those structures by renovation or neglect (water incursion especially). Nationally, as seen in Flint and elsewhere, lead in plumbing and solder is the greatest vector combined with corrosive agents, such as salt, that are introduced into our water supply.

  16. Lead paint hasn't been used in many decades. In well-maintained homes, lead paint has been covered many times over with oil-based or latex paints.

    If there are no leaks that send ceilings crashing down and lead paint flying, then there's no trouble.

    Both landlords and careless tenants are to blame. How many times do people fill bathtubs, forget to turn off the water, and send water cascading down to the floors beneath? Ditto when illegal washing machines are installed. It's not just that landlords don't bother to fix things; it's that they can't keep up with renters who can't get their acts together.

  17. Which doesn't mean, by the way, that landlords always fix plumbing problems when they should -- problems that occur even in well-maintained private homes.

  18. Lead paint comes into contact with children in ways that are unexpected. Doors and door hardware including hinges shed paint due to constant mechanical use and wear.

    Another example is radiator covers. The paint drips through the perforation and dries on the back where it gets cooked by the radiator. The constant heat deteriorates the paint and it ends up on the floor.

    It’s not just about painted walls...

    The Feast of the Assumption
    Is a day all drivers are harking--
    Mary ascended to heaven
    And the city drops alternate parking.

  20. From “Coming Up Today”:
    “An outdoor screening of the film “Desperately Seeking Susan” at the Harbor View Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 6 p.m.”
    For singing along, early Madonna is still everything. This imagines Madge noting that her name is nowhere to be found in the link for the screening! Is it that it’s obvious she’s the draw and she doesn’t even need to be mentioned?

    Tune of “Into the Groove” (Madonna dance hit from the movie)

    (Check out the Harbor View. For inspiration!)

    You mentioned the view
    But Madge says to you, be as clear as can be.
    Madge never would snark
    But they’ll get to the park, if you're clear who they’ll see.

    Here on the lawn by the great East River
    We know the Harbor View is not chopped liver.
    But though Rosanna’s really really good
    It’s Madge who’ll bring them to your neighborhood.

    We know you say that the admission’s free
    But there are costs involved that audiences see.
    These days New Yorkers really value time
    But mention Madge and watch their interest climb

    They’re into the view
    But Madge tells you true, tell them who they’ll see

  21. "What started as a photo op along the Texas-Mexico border could have strayed into law-breaking."

    I'll say a photo op!

    Notice the cunning little sideburns Mr. de Blasio is growing -- very similar to Mr. Arafat's little beard. Nothing beats a corrupt, pandering revolutionary.