The city of New York has a long public history of fighting against the effects of lead poisoning on its citizens. Lead paint was banned within the city’s limits in 1980 which was 18 years before a ban imposed by the federal government. Free testing for lead is offered by New York City and landlords are held accountable for tenants being exposed to residential lead contamination.
Despite the diligence demonstrated by the citizen, Barbara Ellis explains that lead inspectors had not visited the apartment building she once called home before test showed her twin daughters to have a high presence of lead in their bodies for three consecutive years. The building was inspected after the three examinations however and it was found that the building had lead paint in various stages of peeling on both windows and doors.
The Ellis twins are being provided with occupational and speech therapies to address the problems with development that are experienced by many children exposed to lead. Barbara Ellis, who works as a subway conductor, says that daughters Kaitlyn and Chastity suffered from slurred speech.
The situation endured by the Ellis family is not as uncommon a problem as the city of New York hopes it will one day become.
There are still significant areas of the city where lead contamination is prevalent. Data indicates that 69 census tracts across New York City have seen 10% of their small children test positive for elevated levels of lead in their bloodstream over a period of time from 2005 to 2015.
These numbers representing lead contamination rates in New York City are twice those of the peak contamination rates in Flint, Michigan for the years 2014 and 2015.
Patrick MacRoy, once the director of a program for lead poisoning prevention for the city of Chicago, says that the prevalence of lead contamination in New York even despite the efforts made by the city is a clear indication of how challenging the problem is on a national level.
A spokeswoman for New York City Hall, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, expressed discontentment with comparisons that have been made between her city and the city of Flint saying that aggressive efforts on the part of New York City officials have caused a sharp decline in the rates of lead contamination rates.