More than 360 classrooms in Brooklyn public schools are contaminated by toxic lead particles, the Department of Education announced last week.
A recent study found that 938 classrooms in 302 elementary schools citywide tested positive for chipped or peeling lead paint, including 361 classrooms in 114 Brooklyn schools, according to education officials.
Kings County primary schools dominated the city’s list of contaminated classrooms, with facilities such as the P.S. 1 Bergen Elementary School in Sunset Park, P.S. 5 Dr. Ronald McNair Elementary School in Stuyvesant-Heights, and the P.S. 9 Teunis G. Berg Elementary School in Prospect Heights — home to a whopping nine lead-tainted classrooms — included among the affected buildings.
The city’s published lead findings do not include the severity of contamination, but the heavy metal is considered toxic at virtually any level, and children exposed to lead are at risk of brain and nervous system damage, diminished growth, slowed development, and learning disabilities, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Congress outlawed the sale of lead-based paints in the 1960s, but paints sold before then remained in use throughout city schools until 1985, and chipped or peeling walls can release toxic lead particles that are considered immediately hazardous, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education pledged swift action to clean up the dangerous city classrooms before classes resume in September.
“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,” said Miranda Barbot.
The Department of Education also committed to providing training to school custodians to inspect and address lead-paint contamination, as well as to create a centralized database to inform the public about the status of each city classroom, according to the Department.
These are the first lead test results of city schools that the city has made publicly available, and the disclosure follows a scathing WNYC investigative report that found toxic lead levels contaminating dozens of schools built before 1960.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding whether the city would contact the thousands of students who may have been exposed to lead in tainted classrooms in previous years.