Just weeks before the start of a new school year, the city’s Education Department says it has found chipped or flaking lead paint in 938 classrooms.
The findings were based on visual inspections of more than 5,400 classrooms built before 1985 and serving students younger than seven.
P.S. 49 in the Bronx and P.S. 108 in Brooklyn each had 12 classrooms containing deteriorated lead paint, more than any other school.
The cornerstone at P.S. 108 says it was built in 1895—long before lead paint was banned federally in 1978, like many other schools in the city.
"I'm curious what's going on with the lead abatement program,” said one New Yorker. “What's going to happen here, and what has been happening beforehand? That’s forty years after these initial studies, [and] we're still dealing with lead paint."
Elevated levels of lead in a child's blood can cause developmental delays, but the Health Department said lead in schools is not a "principal risk" for exposure. The Education Department says it will address all of the lead hazards, by covering them with primer and two coats of fresh paint.
"All work will be complete by the first day of school, and we’re going to remain vigilant throughout the year and regularly inspect, test, and immediately address any concern in our buildings,” a spokeswoman added.
City officials said they were reaching out to principals this week and were determining how to contact and what to tell parents whose children had class in the rooms where lead was present.
But Brooklyn Councilman Mark Treyger, chair of the Education Committee, said he was concerned the city hadn't tested common areas like gymnasiums, cafeterias, libraries and bathrooms in its lead tests.
It's the first time the city has released statistics on lead paint found in city schools.
The information can be found on the department's website schools.nyc.gov so parents can see exactly which classrooms tested positive.