NEW YORK, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- In 2010, the New York City health department recorded 1,429 lead poisonings among children age 6 years and under, a historic low, health officials say.
Dr. Thomas Farley, health commissioner of the New York City health department, said while the 2009 total for lead poisoning was 1,431, both years are down 47 percent since 2005.
"We know lead paint is the main cause of lead poisoning and young children are most at risk," Farley said in a statement.
"It is critically important that landlords follow the law and safely repair peeling lead paint in homes with young children. Too many children, especially those living in older, poorly maintained housing, are still vulnerable to this serious but preventable health problem."
When a child is diagnosed with lead poisoning, the health department conducts a home inspection to identify lead paint hazards and other lead exposures, orders landlords to repair hazards in a safe and timely manner and works with families and healthcare providers to reduce the child's exposure, Farley said.
Blood lead testing is the only practical way to identify these children, Farley said.
In New York state, healthcare providers are required by law to test all children ages 1-2. An estimated 92 percent of New York City children by age 3 in 2010 were tested for lead poisoning at least once but only about 53 percent of them were tested at or around both age 1 and age 2, as required by state law, Farley added.