Fewer kids in New York City suffered from lead poisoning in 2018. Department of Health figures show that only 4,700 kids had elevated levels of lead in their system last year. The city focused on how to handle lead in the public housing sector.
The city reports that 4,717 kids had elevated lead in their blood. All of the kids tested were under the age of 18. The figure is down 11% from the year prior and 72% lower than 2010.
Kids in public housing are often at higher risk of lead poisoning, but the number of kids in private housing that suffered from high levels of lead fell from 160 to 138 between 2017 and 2018. Private housing remains the biggest concern for officials.
Exposure to lead can cause learning difficulties, slow development and even brain damage in severe cases.
Brooklyn led the data, with 2,158 cases of lead poisoning. The figure is seven times higher than in Manhattan, which had a total of 289 lead poisoning cases. Queens had 1,277 cases, while the Bronx has a total of 819 cases of lead poisonings. In comparison, the number of lead poisonings reported in Nevada in 2017 was just 175.
Queens experienced the largest decline in lead poisoning, year-over-year, with the figure dropping 15% and 233 fewer cases reported than the year prior. Brooklyn had 8% fewer reports, down from 2,335 reported cases in 2017.
Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a LeadFreeNYC plan in January. The Health Department reports that 351,486 New York City children were tested for lead poisoning last year. Health commissioners urge parents who have children under the age of three to contact their pediatrician to have lead levels in their blood tested. Support can also be reached at 311 if a parent notices damaged or peeling paint in their home.
The decline in lead poisoning statistics has done little to save the city’s reputation. Critics claim that despite the decline in poisonings, public housing children are still exposed to lead. The decline in poisonings was primarily from private sector housing.
Critics claim that the city remains out of compliance, even in their own public housing units. There are also a significant number of children that have not been tested for lead exposure that have not made it onto the list.
Lead exposure figures, in the past, have been highly criticized. Previously, reports found that officials grossly understated figures by not counting hundreds of children that, by federal standard, had elevated lead levels.