NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After a firestorm of accusations against NYCHA, alleging mismanagement and negligence by city officials, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a declared a public health emergency over lead levels in public housing.

Probes by the city’s Department of Investigation and federal prosecutors found that between 2012 and 2016, the city was not testing for lead paint as they claimed.

Records show that more than 800 children under the age of six living in New York City Housing Authority units tested positive for elevated levels of lead; far more than the 19 the city actually reported.

“The Governor understands and sympathizes with the parents’ concern and confusion about the possibility of lead poisoning and the various conflicting reports about the facts and circumstances,” the governor’s press secretary Dani Lever wrote in a statement.

Cuomo spoke with Danny Barber, the head of the NYCHA tenants, and their counsel Tuesday in the Bronx. The tenants’ representatives reportedly asked for state-supervised independent testing of lead levels after the city’s failure to thoroughly report the exposure rates.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claims the city did not notify all 820 families because the lead levels were below 10 micrograms per deciliter.

“It’s actually a very low level of exposure but what the federal government said is when you see that level, act quickly to try and make sure nothing happens,” de Blasio said on the phone with NY1 on Monday.

The CDC recommends that cities intervene when lead levels between 5 to 9 micrograms per deciliter are detected.

Cuomo has directed State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to consult with the New York City Department of Health and NYCHA as to how the state can institute an independent testing program.


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