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EPA Seeks $324K from New York Presbyterian Hospital for Violations of Lead Paint Requirements

Release Date: 10/17/2002
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(#02111) New York, N.Y. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has filed a complaint against New York Presbyterian Hospital for failing to provide physicians living in hospital housing with information about possible lead hazards in their apartments. New York Presbyterian, located on East 68th Street in Manhattan, operates another facility at 21 Bloomingdale Road in White Plains, Westchester County. The complaint is directed against the Westchester facility. The Westchester hospital grounds include housing for the families of resident and attending physicians from the facility. EPA is charging New York Presbyterian with violating federal lead disclosure regulations for failing to provide lead information to doctors and their families when they moved in. The agency is particularly concerned that several of the physicians that did not receive the information had their young children living with them. EPA is seeking a $324,060 penalty in the case.

“Lead poisoning remains one of the most prevalent health threats to our children,” said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. “Knowledge is the best tool that parents have to protect their kids – knowledge of whether their homes contain lead paint, of the harm lead can inflict on small children, and how best to prevent exposure to lead in the first place. The federal law requires all landlords – including hospitals – to provide tenants with this information.”

EPA’s lead disclosure requirements were put in place after Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, commonly known as “Title X.” EPA requires that before any contract to sell or lease a residential property built prior to 1978 is finalized, sellers and landlords or their agents must disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the home (or state that they have no knowledge of any hazards), and provide any available reports about the situation. Landlords or their agents must also give buyers and renters the pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home by EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which details the hazards of lead. Any contract to rent housing that was built before 1978 must also include or have attached to it a lead warning statement that describes the landlord or agent’s responsibilities and the renters’ rights.

EPA charged that New York Presbyterian did not provide the necessary lead paint information to the tenants of at least 29 residential units in the White Plains complex. Seven of those units had children under the age of six living in them (children are most susceptible to lead during these early years), and two had children between the ages of six and eighteen. Additionally, at least two women were pregnant and gave birth to their children while living in the White Plains housing. Neither received any lead disclosure information from the hospital prior to or during their pregnancies.

As many as 1.7 million American youngsters are lead poisoned. Adults exposed to high levels of lead, usually in the workplace, are also at risk. Although lead-based house paint has long been taken off the market, children living in older homes and apartments are threatened by chipping or peeling lead paint, or excessive amounts of lead-contaminated dust. More than 80% of homes built before 1978 contain lead paint. Even at low levels, lead in children can cause I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavior problems. Pregnant women poisoned by lead can transfer it to a fetus, resulting in adverse developmental effects.