New York has more known cases of children with elevated blood levels than any other state. 28,820 New York children born in 2019 (12 percent of births) have blood lead levels greater than 2 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL).
Childhood lead exposure rates for communities across our state and in New York City are five to six times higher than those in Flint, Michigan at the peak of its water crisis.
The health effects of childhood lead exposure are irreversible and there is no known safe level of lead in children.
Childhood lead exposure can result in permanent learning difficulties, hearing loss, behavioral issues and lowered ability to concentrate and academic performance.
Lead poisoning can result in serious neurological and physical damage to children, impacting lifelong health and educational attainment and causing anemia, hypertension, immunotoxicity, renal impairment and toxicity to reproductive organs.
New York has the oldest housing stock in the United States.
Nearly 78 percent of our State’s housing stock was built before 1978, the year in which lead paint was banned. Because of our high lead-risk housing stock, New York’s children continue to suffer from lead exposure and poisoning at alarming rates.
Lead exposure among New York children born in 2019 is projected to carry an estimated $6.4 billion lifetime economic burden due to reduced lifetime productivity, premature mortality and increased spending on health care utilization, education and social assistance.
Pervasive racial and socioeconomic inequities exist in New York’s burden of childhood lead poisoning, with our State’s children of color and low-income children disparately impacted by childhood lead exposure. In Buffalo, children from neighborhoods of color are twelve times as likely as children from predominantly white neighborhoods to have elevated blood lead levels. New York’s clear distribution of childhood lead poisoning along racial and socioeconomic lines affirms lead poisoning as a grave racial and environmental injustice – and makes the need to act swiftly to prevent it even more of a moral imperative.