800 children from NYCHA housing test positive for elevated lead levels

NEW YORK (WABC) -- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is ordering all 130,000 NYCHA apartments to undergo new lead testing after more than 800 children tested positive for elevated lead levels.

New York City Council members and New York's Democratic congressmen and women gathered on Tuesday to push for a change in how the city cleans up lead pipes and paint and tracks kids who have been affected in public housing.

They are demanding a $70 billion federal investment in public housing over five years, calling it a Better Deal. They say they want the federal government to help fix dangerous conditions, including lead exposure in paint chips and water in NYCHA buildings.

The New York City Department of Health just disclosed that 820 children under age 6 in NYCHA buildings were tested and had elevated levels of lead in their blood between 2012 and 2016.

Mayor de Blasio said while the city has seen a 90 percent reduction in lead poisoning since 2005, more needs to be done.

"The NYCHA piece of it is actually less than 10 percent of the cases in the city," de Blasio said. "Most of them are are in private housing."

Lead paint has been illegal since 1960 in New York and throughout the United States since 1978, yet children are still testing positive for elevated lead levels in buildings that have not been properly maintained for decades.

"There are probably generations of children who we've labeled as being difficult, who we've labeled as being learning disabled, who have lived in these apartments over these years that have been poisoned and never diagnosed," Rep. Yvette Clarke said.

Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities in kids under the age of 6 and can cause irreversible brain damage for young children if they eat paint chips filled with lead or drink large quantities of lead-contaminated water.

The president of the tenants association is telling all parents of kids under the age of 6 to get a legal blood test to check for lead.

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