Kathryn Garcia

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Sanitation Commissioner To Oversee City's Efforts To Cut Lead Exposure

October 18, 2018 - 10:11 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The city wants to cut the number of lead exposure cases down to zero in the wake of reports about lead paint problems in public housing projects.

It's launcing a new initiative and is putting the head of New York's Strongest in charge of overseeing the efforts to get the lead out of city housing.

The move comes after the mayor was discovered to have downplayed the number of New York City Housing Authority children with elevated blood lead levels. The controversy led to a package of 25 bills in the City Council aimed at tightening regulations.

At a hearing last month, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the city agencies responsible for reducing lead exposure need to do more.

"We need to be relentless in our enforcement," Johnson said at the time.

Acting City Health Commissioner testified that the city has seen a 90 percent decrease in the number of children with elevated blood lead levels since 2005 and says, "Now is the time to finish the mission."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia will develop a citywide plan to prevent and respond to lead poisoning, educate families on potential lead sources and increase testing.

"It's a challenge," she tells the Journal, but adds "it’s an opportunity to do some good."

Garcia said she plans to release a report on the city's next steps by the new year.

"We have to be completely transparent not only about what the plan is but what are the results," Garcia said.