New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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City Inspectors on Hunt for Lead Dust in Apartment Renovations

New York City

Lead Inspections

Air-borne lead has brought a stop-work order to 582 Academy Street in Inwood (image via Google Maps).

Nov. 15, 2019

The recent surge of apartment renovations and combinations has given co-op and condo boards something new to worry about: random visits from city inspectors looking for air-borne lead.

Two city agencies – the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – have been sending inspectors to pre-1978 buildings where renovations are in progress, the Real Deal reports. The inspectors are looking for excessive dust; if lead is found in the dust, additional violations and a stop-work order are issued. So far this year, the agencies have conducted 63 such inspections and issued 39 violations at 17 different buildings for dust and other problems, according to the DOB. Lead was found at four properties in Manhattan, three of which have since resolved the violations. A stop-work order remains active at the fourth, 582 Academy Street in Inwood, for excessive dust in the building. Its manager could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has launched an outreach program to owners of older buildings and is performing lead inspections upon request in apartments with a child younger than 6. 

These efforts come as the city faces fierce criticism over lapses in its inspection and enforcement programs. A September report by city Comptroller Scott Stringer found that between January 1, 2013 and October 10, 2018, HPD failed to inspect 9,671 buildings at which 11,972 children tested positive for lead exposure. A report this week by tenant and environmental justice advocates found that the city has only collected $10,190 – or less than 1 percent – of the $2 million in fines it has issued for violations of Local Law 1 since 2004, according to Gothamist. The statute requires landlords to identify and remediate lead-based paint hazards in apartments with young children. Lead-based paint has been illegal in New York City since 1960.

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