Credit: Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Communication Failure Leaves Children Vulnerable to Lead Poisoning and NYC Open to Class-Action

In a city as expansive as New York, safety hazards may seem like an inevitability. Though this may be the case, it is vital that the governments and housing authorities communicate effectively and consistently to mitigate the dangers of these concerns. Since the water crisis in Flint Michigan, many of the processes in place have not held up under the intense public scrutiny. Recently coming to light, New York City’s residents have unknowingly been exposed to lead paint hazards, which are addressed in the Lead Certification NY training.

Thousands of residents of New York City’s sprawling public housing system received notices under their apartment doors last year alerting them that city inspectors would need to get inside to check for potentially hazardous lead paint conditions.

But nothing about the May 2016 notification, under the sunny banner of “National Healthy Homes Month,” disclosed the reason for the urgency in requesting access: For nearly four years, the authority had not been doing lead paint inspections mandated by federal rules and city law.

That means that those living in the homes and child occupied facilities that have gone without testing have been continually susceptible to lead exposure and the potential for lead poisoning for years, with no warning of danger from the housing authority. As we know from the lead renovator training, children are the most at risk for lead poisoning, which makes this oversight particularly egregious.

In recent inspections of 4,200 public housing apartments with possible lead paint and tenants with a child under age 6, more than half were found to have peeling or otherwise damaged paint. Only in the last week, as pressure has mounted, has the city said it would provide free lead testing to all children in those apartments.

This negligence leaves New York City, and its housing authority, open to a class-action lawsuit. The lawyer from the Flint Michigan events is now putting forth such a case, based on a lack of communication, false filings, and putting children’s health at risk.

With the scope of the health risks still unclear, a class-action case against New York City, in connection with the failure to conduct lead inspections in public housing, is now being prepared by a lead lawyer for families suing over lead poisoning in Flint, Mich., Corey M. Stern.

The lack of disclosure culminated in a false filing to the federal government in October 2016, certifying that lead paint inspections had been conducted — though city leaders knew they had not been.

The lead hazards exist. Not following inspection protocol, communicating the dangers, and mitigating the potential risks was a mistake. How New York City handles the situation from here will be critical.

Read the full story here.