NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A big job is getting even bigger — removing the lead paint from New York City public housing.

The federal monitor put in charge of the Housing Authority says more children are at risk of lead exposure than previously known, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

Young children exposed to lead paint face possible damage to their brain and nervous system, which is why the monitor overseeing NYCHA has been pushing the agency to attack the problem more aggressively.

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On Thursday, monitor Bart Schwartz dropped a bombshell, announcing on his website, “A far greater number of children under 6 may be at risk of lead exposure than was thought just two years ago.”

Parents are upset.

“It’s very dangerous for the kids,” tenant Kaprice Moore said, adding when asked if that bothers her, “Yes, it bothers me because I have little ones. I don’t want them to get sick or have lead poisoning.”

In 2018, NYCHA identified 3,000 apartments where lead paint might put children at risk. Now, after additional testing using so-called XRF guns it has determined the actual number is three times greater — 9,000 apartments.

NYCHA has been promising for years to get the lead paint out. It controls 180,000 New York City apartments, with 75% of them built before lead paint was outlawed in the 1970s.

In 2019, NYCHA settled a federal complaint that it deceived inspectors and the public about lead paint compliance.

The federal monitor said under the leadership of new NYCHA Chair Gregory Russ progress is being made finding and fixing lead paint issues.

“I’m just getting this information now,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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The mayor has tried over the last years to show he’s on top of the issue, and promised immediate follow-up on the monitor’s report.

“It can be done. It must be done,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio pointed to progress. Since 2010 the children’s lead exposure rate has dropped significantly in New York City.

But, as the monitor’s report shows, there’s much more that needs to be done.

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