NYCHA to test for lead paint using X-ray detectors

The Harlem River Houses will be the first NYCHA development to have every apartment tested for lead using new multi-million dollar technology. This is the first major step forward in making NYCHA lead-free. But some residents told FOX 5 NY that they'll wait and see.

The XRF handheld device, which looks like a grocery store price scanner, uses a radioactive isotope to detect lead paint. It can even find lead paint buried underneath layers of other paint or substances. The lead detectors, which cost $88 million, will be used to check about three-quarters of NYCHA's apartments—about 135,000 units.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said NYCHA will prioritize testing at developments based on the number of children under 6 and the year the complexes were built.

An investigation in 2017 found that some NYCHA workers failed to do lead inspections and then lied on reports saying they were done. The mayor called that "horrible" but that the federal prosecutor will need to determine what consequences those workers should face.

In May, trained NYCHA will examine the Williamsburg Houses using the X-ray lead paint detectors. Officials said testing will be reliable and quick, with a minimum of disruption to the household.

De Blasio said the goal is to have all of the apartments tested by the end of 2020. Residents will be notified and given the results. He said this plan goes above and beyond what the law requires.