Three Queens lawmakers played key roles as the City Council passed a package of legislation Wednesday which would give New York City the most comprehensive, far-reaching lead laws in the nation.
Among the 10 pieces of legislation that were passed were two drafted by City Councilman Daniel Dromm to address the continued lead poisoning of children.
A recent Court of Appeals ruling that a young girl who spent 50 hours a week at her grandmother’s apartment did not “reside” in the apartment absolving the landlord from any responsibility to abate the lead-based paint. Dromm’s bill. Intro. 464-B, will resolve this issue with existing law by expanding the definition of the term “reside” to cover cases where children become exposed to lead while spending extended time with a temporary caretaker.
“Our families should not have to endure the pain of having a child suffer lead poisoning,” Dromm said. “This bill fills a gap in the current code and, as a result, protects New York’s children from the myriad health risks associated with lead poisoning, including irreversibly impaired neurological development, behavioral disorders, and reduced educational attainment.”
The city’s Department of Health would be required to investigate the potential sources of elevated lead levels in children’s blood, including inspecting any dwelling where a child with elevated blood lead level spends 10 or more hours per week. Dromm’s second bill, Intro. 881-A, addresses the lack of public knowledge about lead paint hazards requiring the DOH to establish and implement an education and outreach program to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning. This program would be linguistically and culturally tailored to immigrant communities, especially those who have limited English proficiency.
“My bill ensures that our families will be educated on the negative impact lead can have on a child’s health,” Dromm said. “Now fewer low-income and immigrant families will suffer the pain and hardship that results in having a child exposed to lead.”
When City Councilman Robert Holden took office in 2017, lead-contaminated soil was excavated during a sewer reconstruction project on Penelope Avenue in Middle Village. Holden wasn’t informed of the contamination until six months later and the excavated soil had been stored in uncovered piles merely 50 yards from a school and a dense residential area.
Holden drafted INT. 1063 which would require that after any discovery of hazardous lead in soil must be reported to the relevant Council member and community board within five business days.
“Increased transparency between city agencies and the public is a value I campaigned on, and I’m pleased to see this bill accomplishing that,” Holden said. “It is common sense that local officials should be notified of any dangerous contamination so they can help inform and protect their constituents. There is no excuse for the carelessness that this bill will correct.”
The bill is Holden’s first to pass in the City Council. Intro. 0709, authored by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, would require the Department of Environmental Protection to create an online map that will report information on lead pipes throughout the city.
“It is imperative that New Yorkers know when there are toxic levels of lead in our drinking water and how to prevent contamination,” Van Bramer said. “This critical legislation would require unprecedented depth and transparency in reporting lead poisoning by creating and searchable online map identifying all known lead water service lines in NYC. Making this data available and engaging in public outreach and education around this issue will better protect children and families from dangerous lead poisoning.”