HPD Changes to Stricter Definition of Lead-Based Paint, Expecting Increase in Lead Violations

Image Credit: NYC HPD

The reduction is expected to lead to an increase of surfaces found with lead and an increase in violations issued. On December 30, 2021, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced a change in the standard defining what paint counts as “lead-based,” creating the strictest standard in the nation. The new definition amends the concentration of lead found in paint allowed from 1.0 milligrams of lead per square centimeter of paint or similar surface coating to only 0.5 milligrams, cutting the allowable amounts of lead found in paint in half. The change has been in effect as of December 1, 2021. 

The change is the next in the City’s push to eliminate childhood lead exposure, an initiative called LeadFreeNYC. The initiative builds on and helps with the enforcement of Local Law 1 of 2004, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. Local Law 1 requires rental property owners to take proactive steps to protect children from lead exposure. Building owners whose rental buildings were constructed before 1960 must annually determine which rental units where a child under the age of six resides or routinely spends ten hours a week; inspect those units and common areas of buildings for lead-based paint hazards; remediate those hazards with safe work practices and certified contractors; remediating lead hazards in all units at unit turnover between tenants; and testing for lead in all rental units by August 2025. There are additional recordkeeping requirements for property owners. For CityLand’s prior coverage of the City’s fight against lead-based paint, click here

With a lower threshold for what constitutes lead-based paint, the agency expects that there will be a fifteen percent increase in additional surfaces that will now test positive for lead, which will result in more violations issued. More “friction” area surfaces (ex. Doors and windows) will need to be abated to ensure compliance by 2025. Lead-based paint exemptions that have already been issued by HPD will now be revoked upon turnover of the unit to another tenant, and new applications for exemptions will be based on the new definition of lead-based paint. 

Former HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll* stated, “HPD’s work has protected thousands of children from lead-based paint hazards since the implementation of Local Law 1. This lowered definition for lead-based paint supports HPD’s mission of making homes safer and healthier for children and will increase the enforcement and scope of Local Law 1 in more homes, further advancing the goals set forth in LeadFreeNYC to eliminate the risk of childhood lead exposure.” 

Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi stated, “New York City continues to be at the national forefront in fighting lead poisoning. The new lead paint standard will help protect thousands more NYC children from lead exposure.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


(*Editor’s Note: This announcement was made prior to the change in administration and before Commissioner Carroll left office. A new HPD Commissioner has not been appointed by Mayor Eric Adams as of the publishing of this article.) 



One thought on “HPD Changes to Stricter Definition of Lead-Based Paint, Expecting Increase in Lead Violations

  1. Wouldn’t it be great if the city addressed the water main issue that dwarfs the apartment based lead paint issue and handled the NYCHA issue which has overwhelmingly been a double standard?

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