Health Chair Levine Introduces Lead Testing Legislation for City Parks

CM Levine also Endorsed Two Bills Aimed at Curbing the Rat Scourge in Manhattan Valley

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 516-946-5253 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY – Today, New York City Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Health Committee, introduced legislation that requires the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to annually test lead levels in City parks.

Council Member Levine’s bill is part of a package of bills introduced to the City Council today to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in the five boroughs by strengthening the city’s lead laws. In 2016 alone, over 5,000 children tested positive for high levels of lead, or about 1.65% of the one to two year olds tested annually as required by state law. Though the number is down from 12.5% in 2005, this package of bills will require the city to conduct more thorough investigations when children test positive for high lead blood levels - including in the exposed child’s day care, preschool, and parks and play areas. The package will lower the threshold for what counts as elevated blood lead to 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL), which matches the Centers for Disease Control standard. The city’s current level - which is the standard used to instigate a mandatory investigation - is three times higher.

Currently, the City does not test for lead in parks or the many thousands of water fountains in them. Council Member Levine’s new legislation will require DOHMH to annually test lead levels in City owned and operated parks, including water fountains and in the soil of playgrounds, and if lead levels are unacceptably high, the Department will be required to remediate those levels immediately.

Council Health Chair Mark Levine said, “While our city has made great strides in the battle against lead poisoning, far too many of our children continue to test positive for dangerously high levels of lead in their blood. We must attack this challenge everywhere that children are at risk: in our homes, in our schools, and in our parks. This sweeping package of legislation will put New York City at the forefront nationally in this vital public health fight, and as a former Chair of the Parks Committee, I’m especially proud to be introducing legislation that will make our parks and playgrounds safer and healthier for New York families.”

Council Member Levine Backs Legislation to Curb Rat Scourge in Manhattan Valley

Today, Council Member Levine also sponsored two bills, Intro 658 and Intro 659, which aim to address the prevailing issue of rats in DOHMH designated “rat reservoirs,” which include large swaths of Manhattan Valley and Morningside Heights.

Intro 658, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James, would make abating rodents a requirement for the issuance of construction permits in any rat reservoir. Intro 659, sponsored by Council Member Antonio Reynoso would require the City to publicly report on its progress in lowering rodent populations.

"The prevailing issue of rats has plagued New York City, and particularly Upper Manhattan for decades," said Council Health Chair Mark Levine. "Rats are not only a detriment to quality of life, but also to public health and safety. In the past few years my office has held several Rat Academies in partnership with the Departments of Health and Sanitation to demonstrate safe and effective ways buildings and homeowners can control rodent issues, and I look forward to doing even more in the coming months. I am also working directly with the Health Department to bring in new rodent resistant trash bins and to increase abatement measures in NYCHA buildings such as the Douglass and Grant Houses.”

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