Despite backlash from RSA and industry-wide professionals, the City Council still enacted a package of lead-based paint laws.
Part of the most significant law enacted, Local Law 66 of 2019, went into effect on June 12th. The law reduced the blood lead reference level from 15 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), which has been the reference level since Local Law 1 of 2004 was enacted, to 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL). Furthermore, it reduces the minimum thresholds for lead-based paint when testing for paint chips from 0.5% to 0.25% by weight, lead-contaminated dust on floor from 40 micrograms per square foot (mcg/sf) to 5 mcg/sf, from 250 mcg/sf to 50 mcg/sf on window sills, and from 400 mcg/sf to 100 mcg/sf on window wells.
An additional provision of the law reduces the minimum thresholds for lead-based paint from 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm²) to 0.5 mg/cm² as determined by x-ray fluorescence analyzer (XRF) testing. With regard to this section of the law, there is currently no existing XRF detector available that can accurately measure lead content at the approved level of 0.5 mg/cm. Although this section of the law is supposed to go into effect in March 2020, it will depend on the commercial availability of XRF machines certified to detect the relevant lead paint levels. As a result, the existing threshold of 1.0 mg/cm² will remain in place until further notice.
When RSA testified against this bill last fall, the legislation then proposed reducing the threshold from 1.0 mg/cm², to 0.3 mg/cm² or greater. The Council’s main goal was to convert the long-established and long-accepted approach of lead-safe housing to lead-free housing. RSA and industry professionals, including Josh Sarett of ALC Environmental, argued that this approach had long been regarded as impractical, expensive and unnecessary as a result of the accomplishments under the prior City regulations. Nevertheless, the City Council continued to receive pressure from the de Blasio Administration as a result of the ongoing lead paint issues at City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings and the legislation was amended into its current form and ultimately enacted.
The City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will begin rolling out various webinars over the next few months covering the changes to the lead laws and other various new maintenance requirements. Once HPD has provided us with that information, we will be sure to promote them frequently to RSA members.
We will keep you apprised on the status of this law through the RSA Reporter.