Lead-based Paint Safety

Keeping Students Safe

In New York City public schools, we go above and beyond to keep kids safe. To protect children under six years of age from exposure to lead, the Division of School Facilities regularly inspects buildings for peeling paint. That’s because peeling lead-based paint can present a risk of lead exposure, especially for children under age six.

How We Report and Fix Peeling Paint in Schools

The DOE has enhanced its inspection protocols to identify and remediate deteriorating lead-based paint. We abate lead-based peeling paint found in classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, bathrooms, auditoriums and gymnasiums serving first grade and under in buildings built before 1985. 

Custodian Engineers formally record the inspection results on the Paint Film Condition Visual Inspection Form. Classrooms are formally inspected three times a year and common spaces are formally inspected once a year. These results are available online. 

Standard Response Protocol

Our standard response protocol keeps kids safe, and applies to all buildings serving kids under six built before 1985. Although lead-based paint was banned in New York City in 1960, we take additional precautions and include in our monitoring any building built 25 years after that ban.

If your child is under the age of six and their school was built before 1985:

  • Their classroom is inspected and if there is any peeling paint, it is addressed
  • If there is peeling paint, an independent contractor tests whether the paint is lead-based paint, and, if it is, a safety plan is developed.
  • If the paint is lead-based paint or is paint of an unknown origin, the peeling paint is stripped and then sealed with a certified primer and painted over. Deteriorating paint on impact points, such as radiators and window sills is completely removed. This is abatement. If this work is occurring in a classroom, students are relocated in the interim. If it is occurring in a common space, it is made inaccessible to students so the work is safe.
  • Once the lead-based paint has been abated, an independent certified inspector technician takes dust wipes that are tested to make sure the room is safe for children to reenter. This completes remediation.
  • Custodian Engineers continue to visually inspect classrooms regularly.

Report an Issue

If you notice peeling paint in one of our school buildings, we would like to hear from you. Please fill out the Paint Reporting survey below and we will investigate. We’ll need the building code, classroom number and floor. Get your building code by clicking the borough your school is in and typing in the address or school name to find the code.

Once you have the building code, fill out the Paint Reporting survey.

Lead-based Paint Testing Results

View the results of the inspections for all classrooms serving students in first grade or under, in applicable buildings These tests were completed in accordance with our protocols detailed above.

The spreadsheets identify all classrooms, whether there was observation of peeling paint, and if there was, standard response protocol was followed. Please note that in the spreadsheet LBP means “lead-based paint.” Abatement is part of the standard response protocol.

Room Change Requests

Principals, please sign in to the InfoHub to download the Room Change Request Form.

Letters for Families

Providing families with detailed and easily accessible information is key to our partnership with you. Below is a copy of the letter we sent to families describing our approach to lead-based paint inspection and repair, and the September letter about the summer city-wide testing and remediation, and frequently asked questions.

Additional Information on Lead Exposure

Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead is a known neurotoxin, particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of children under 6 years old. Lead can harm a young child's growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Lead exposure during pregnancy may contribute to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants. There are many sources of lead exposure in the environment, and it is important to reduce all lead exposures as much as possible. Water testing helps identify and correct possible sources of lead that contribute to exposure from drinking water.

What are the other sources of lead exposure?

Lead is a metal that has been used for centuries for many purposes, resulting in widespread distribution in the environment. Major sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint in older housing, and lead that built up over decades in soil and dust due to historical use of lead in gasoline, paint, and manufacturing. Lead can also be found in a number of consumer products, including certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, foods, plumbing materials, and cosmetics. Lead seldom occurs naturally in water supplies but drinking water could become a possible source of lead exposure if the building’s plumbing contains lead. The primary source of lead exposure for most children with elevated bloodlead levels is lead-based paint.

Who is at risk for lead poisoning?

Children under 3 years of age are the most susceptible and vulnerable to the health effects of lead. Lead also poses a risk to the developing fetus. Exposure to lead may interfere with a child's growth and development.

What do we know about rates of lead poisoning in NYC children?

Rates of lead poisoning among NYC children have been falling. In 2019, 3,050 New York City children younger than 6 years of age were identified with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or greater. This represents an 21% decline from 2018 when there were 3,866 children with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or greater, and an 92% decline since 2005 when there were 37,344 children with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or greater. 

Additional Resources