Proposed law combats dangerous lead in WNY

Posted at 6:44 AM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 08:23:27-05

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is co-sponsoring a bill aimed at combating the high levels of lead poisoning among New York's children.

Western New York has the highest rate of children who have dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream in all of New York State.  In 2014, 583 children, or about 13 percent of children evaluated tested positive for lead poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead poisoning is particularly dangerous for children because it is associated with permanent neurological damage and behavioral disorders.

Under Schumer's proposed legislation, homeowners and landlords would qualify for tax credits that would cover up to 50 percent of the cost of removing dangerous lead from homes. This includes an up to $3,000 tax credit for getting rid of lead pipes, lead paint and replacing painted surfaces, windows or fixtures contaminated with lead paint. It also includes an up to $1,000 tax credit for specialized cleaning, monitoring and resident education about lead paint contamination. The tax credit would be available to all households earning up to $110,000 per year.

The new law would expand the tax credit available in the 2009 version of this legislation, which only allowed households with a child under 6 years of age or a household with a woman about to bear a child and that was built before 1960 to claim the credit.

Schumer is also pushing to increase funding to a grant program that provides additional money to help identify and control lead-based paint hazards in homes.

Any home built before 1980 could contain lead, and according to the New York State Department of Health, 42.9 percent of the state's housing stock was built before 1950.  In these older homes, lead is found in two sources: lead-based paint and pipes made with lead. The paint can erode and settle on everything from food on a table, to children’s toys on the floor. This then easily allows the substance to get into the hands and mouths of children. Lead pipes, spigots and faucets can pass dangerous levels of lead to children in the tap water.