With 7 line loaded with lead paint, State Senate passes bill to require that MTA study lead hazards

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A bill sponsored by Queens Senator Jose Peralta to study the amount of lead in elevated train tracks has passed the senate.

The bill, which was introduced on April 28, passed unanimously on June 5 and is being considered in the Assembly.

After a local painters union found that paint chips falling from the elevated tracks on the 7 line contained extremely high levels of lead, Peralta introduced legislation along with Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz that would require the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) to conduct a study on lead paint on elevated subway tracks and stations throughout the city.

District 9 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades found that the 52nd Street station in Jackson Heights contains more than 40 times the legal threshold of lead paint, which amounts to 224,000 parts per million of lead paint. Abatement is usually required when lead levels are higher than 5,000 parts per million, the union said. 

The bill requires the MTA and New York City Transit Authority to conduct a study that outlines how the MTA complies with the Clean Air Act and a report recommending how to proceed with lead paint abatement and how much it would cost. The study would be conducted along with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health.

“This proposal will help protect everyone from hazardous lead paint chips falling onto the street,” Peralta said. “We need to remove this dangerous problem from our aboveground subway lines.”

According to a spokesperson for Peralta, the study would be completed by March 1, 2018. The report would be shared with the governor, temporary president of the Senate, speaker of the Assembly and the mayor.

A spokesperson for the MTA previously told QNS that the lead levels cited by the union were above Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines for residential homes, which include a different standard than outdoor elevated structures.

“We don’t comment on pending legislation,” MTA Spokesperson Beth DeFalco said in a statement. “However, the safety of all our customers and the surrounding community is a top priority. The MTA has an aggressive repainting program across the entire system which includes proactively scraping and repainting our structures.”

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