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Advocates: More money needed to combat lead poisoning in New York

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  • Staff Report 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent budget proposal includes $38.8 million in funding to combat lead exposure and lead poisoning in rental properties throughout the state. However, county health officials believe that this amount of funding is insufficient and more is needed to meet the requirements of a 2019 law aimed at protecting children under 6 years old from lead exposure.

Approximately 7,000 children in New York are diagnosed with elevated lead blood levels each year. The proposed funding will target 24 communities outside of New York City, which already has its own program for addressing lead exposure.

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The funds will be used for inspections, renovations when dangerous lead levels are found, and to help property owners receive federal funding for removal.

While the New York State Association of County Health Officials is encouraged by the proposal, the group claims that at least $36 million is necessary for local health officials to fully implement the 2019 law, which lowered the blood level required for public health officials to take action on lead exposure in children aged 6 and under from 10 micrograms to 5. The executive director of the group, Sarah Ravenhall, stated that due to funding deficiencies, New York’s approach to childhood lead poisoning remains reactive, and that the state must provide the necessary funds to transition to an effective prevention model that will save children from exposure and the detrimental impact of lead poisoning.