Lead Surveillance Report for Quarters 1 through 3: Childhood Lead Exposure Has Fallen 9 Percent Compared To the Same Period In 2017

Drop even sharper for children in public housing, which saw a 12 percent reduction compared to the same period in 2017

Since 2005, there has been a nearly 90 percent decrease in the number of New York City children under 6 years old with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or greater

January 3, 2019 – The Health Department today released its latest Childhood Blood Lead Level Surveillance Quarterly Report (PDF) covering the third quarter of 2018. From January to September of 2018, 278,764 children younger than 18 years old in New York City got tested for lead exposure. Of all children tested, 3,807 (1.4%) had a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or higher; that is 394 fewer children citywide than the same period in 2017, or a 9 percent decline, and a 12 percent decline for children who lived or spent time in NYCHA housing. Launched in August, this quarterly report is a new initiative of the Health Department and complements the City’s annual blood lead level surveillance report (PDF). In July, the City announced a more stringent measure to reduce childhood lead exposure and became one of the first jurisdictions in the country to conduct environmental investigations for all children under 18 years old with a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter. 

“While it is great news that childhood lead poisoning levels continue to decline across the city, we must continue to work to protect children from exposure to lead,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “If you have a child age 3 and under, be sure to get their blood lead level tested by their pediatrician. And, if you have peeling or damaged paint in your home, call 311.”

Quarterly Data Notes

  • During the third quarter (July, August, September) of 2018, 1,324 children younger than 18 years old had a blood lead level of 5 mcg/dL or higher, including 40 children who live or spend time in NYCHA. The quarterly total represents an 8 percent reduction, or 118 fewer children when compared to the third quarter of 2017.
  • Consistent with historic trends, the number of children with elevated blood lead levels rises during the summer months.  Thus, the third quarter of 2018 saw a modest increase when compared to the second quarter of 2018 – 1,324 versus 1,177 children, respectively. Many factors may contribute to the summertime increase, including higher testing rates due to school admission requirements and higher risk introduced through opening and closing windows, which can result in peeling lead paint and dust.
  • Overall, rates of childhood lead exposure in New York City are at all-time lows. Since 2005, there has been a nearly 90 percent decrease in the number of New York City children under 6 years old with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or greater (representing 33,000 fewer children).
  • Rates of testing for children under 3 are high across New York City. Among children born in 2013, 88 percent of children in NYCHA housing and 74 percent in private housing were tested by age 3.

Lead poisoning data

Lead poisoning data

Lead poisoning is preventable. Avoid exposure.

  • Building owners are required to safely fix peeling paint. Report peeling or damaged paint to your building owner. If they do not fix the paint, you can report them online (nyc.gov/311) or by calling 311.
  • Keep children away from peeling paint and renovations.
  • Wash floors and windowsills often. Wash hands and toys of children under 6.
  • Remove shoes before entering your home.
  • If someone in your household works with lead, wash work clothes separately from the family laundry.
  • Avoid using imported products that may contain lead, such as certain spices, traditional medicines, cosmetics, pottery and toys. Visit nyc.gov/lead.

Get tested.
A blood test is the only way to find out if you or your child has an elevated blood lead level. In New York State, children must be tested for lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2, and screened for risk up to age 6. Ask your doctor about testing older children if you think they may have been exposed to lead. Pregnant women should be assessed for lead exposure at their first prenatal visit. Call 311 for help finding a doctor or clinic.



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