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Preventing Child Residential Lead Exposure by Window Replacement. Funded By: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Michael Weitzman, 1 David E. Jacobs, PhD, CIH, 2 Rick Nevin 2 1 New York University 2 National Center for Healthy Housing. Abstract

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Preventing Child Residential Lead Exposure by Window Replacement

Funded By: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Michael Weitzman,1 David E. Jacobs, PhD, CIH,2 Rick Nevin2

1New York University 2National Center for Healthy Housing


Objectives: Evaluate the effect of lead-safe window replacement and repair on dust lead levels in the residential environment; assess health outcomes among residents; and promote partnerships among local weatherization assistance programs, local health departments, researchers, and others.

Background: Lead paint hazards (homes with deteriorated lead paint and contaminated dust and soil), are the most common cause of childhood lead exposure. Windows have the highest dust lead and paint lead levels compared to all other building components. Lead-safe window replacement is expected to yield substantial energy savings, reduced childhood lead exposure and increased housing value through the following simple 4-step upgrade: Replace all single-pane windows with Energy Star windows; Stabilize deteriorated paint; Do specialized cleaning; and do clearance (dust wipe) tests. Weatherization programs have done relatively little window replacement in the past due to limits on spending, and lead poisoning prevention programs may use inexpensive energy inefficient windows. Partnerships can eliminate these inefficiencies and enable each to maximize energy and lead poisoning prevention benefits.

New York State Study: Implement and study (1) lead-safe window replacement and (2) the repair of old, energy inefficient lead-contaminated windows in pre-1950 housing in Utica (Oneida County) and New York City in 3 cohorts: one with lead safe window replacement (70 units); the second with energy efficient window repairs (130 units); and the third without any window repair or replacement (100 units). We will document window replacement and window repair costs, costs for cleanup and dust wipe testing, other weatherization activities and costs, and pre-intervention and post-intervention dust lead levels and household energy bills, and self-reported health data for households before and one year after intervention. The project will also conduct outreach and partnership building with foundations, window manufacturers/distributors.

Partnerships Created: Utica Department of Health, Utica Weatherization Assistance Program, New York City Health Department, New York City Community Environmental Center, New York University, National Center for Healthy Housing, advocates and potentially window manufacturers and suppliers and foundations.


A “Fiver” Housing Stimulus Strategy that Pays for Itself

1. Large-Scale Job Creation: Window replacement is a labor intensive activity that can quickly create millions of jobs with window manufacturers and their suppliers and for housing renovation workers hard hit by the housing market decline.

2. Reduce energy bills, emissions, and federal energy assistance: Replacing old single-pane windows with Energy Star windows would provide ongoing economic stimulus for decades by reducing utility bills by hundreds of dollars per year for every family residing in homes targeted by this strategy.

3. Stabilize home values and reduce foreclosure inventory: This strategy can increase home value by putting equity into homes in the form of energy efficiency. Research shows that home value increases by about $20 for every dollar reduction in annual utility bills

4. Help eliminate childhood lead poisoning: Extensive research shows that preschool lead exposure profoundly affects the risk of later educational failure and criminal behavior. Lead paint hazards in older homes, including deteriorated lead paint and lead contaminated dust, are the most common cause of early childhood lead exposure today. Severe lead poisoning is often caused by lead paint chip ingestion, but the much more common exposure pathway is lead-contaminated dust, ingested by young children via normal hand-to-mouth activity as they crawl and play on floors. Ingested lead travels through the bloodstream to the child’s developing brain, where elevated blood lead can cause many different types of neurobehavioral damage. Impoverished, minority children are disproportionately harmed by lead paint hazards but all children in older housing are at risk.

5. Market transformation: The recent decline in home prices shows that sustainable home value is inexorably linked to what people can afford to pay to live in those homes. Energy costs are a major part of housing costs, but standard mortgage underwriting ignores energy costs. A lead safe window replacement initiative could help to establish how underwriting and appraisal standards should reflect energy costs and efficient home features, including insulation levels, window efficiency ratings, and blower door tests of excess air infiltration