A group of city politicians is calling on officials to expand lead testing in schools to include common areas like gyms and cafeterias ? and wants it done fast.
Thirty-four of the City Council’s 51 members signed onto a letter Monday from Brooklyn Council Member Mark Treyger to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza pushing the city to test common areas by the start of school.
“We believe the administration’s reaction to this serious issue is insufficient and downplays the seriousness of lead contamination,” the politicians wrote.
More than 900 classrooms housing kids under six were found to have a risk of lead paint exposure, according to a recent citywide survey by the Education Department. The survey was the first time the city has released the results of lead paint inspections to the public.
But current city protocols only require schools to inspect classrooms, under the rationale that’s where young students — who are most vulnerable to lead poisoning — spend most of their day.
At an Aug. 15 press conference, Mayor de Blasio pushed aside concerns of lead paint exposure in school common areas. “You don’t get lead chips in your mouth walking through a hallway,” hizzonner said. “The real question is in classrooms.”
But Treyger countered that kids spend significant time in common areas, including in hallways lined up for fire drills.
“Young children might get curious and start picking at the walls,” he said.
Lead paint exposure, which comes from ingesting paint chips or dust, can lead to serious health risks for young children including aggressive behaviors and developmental delays.
Mayor de Blasio has faced withering criticism for his administration’s response to lead paint in NYCHA properties. Treyger noted some NYCHA lead poisoning cases came from tainted paint in stairwells.
“The mayor is in no position to diminish the seriousness of lead after what the city has endured with NYCHA,” the Brooklyn lawmaker said.
Education Department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said the agency is “reviewing its policy on common spaces and will have more to say soon.”