JACKSON HEIGHTS — Flakes of dried-up old paint falling to the street from the more than 100-year-old 7 train platform above contain nearly 50 times the allowable levels of lead, a union has found.
Samples of paint from the line taken in February by District Council 9 Painters' and Allied Trade Union found lead levels were 244,000 parts per billion —while lead abatement is required when levels reach 5,000 parts per billion.
Elected officials fear the "toxic paint chips" could seep into soil and ground below the 7 train, with the potential to affect the people who live nearby.
“Forty-eight times the levels that would require lead abatement is cause for a public health crisis," Councilman Danny Dromm said. "We have a responsibility to these communities."
Peeling paint at the 61st St. - Woodside 7 train station. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
Assemblyman Francisco Moya said results show the 7 train is more than just an "eyesore."
"The leaded paint chips are shedding over heavily populated streets like Roosevelt. Even more concerning is how extremely dangerous lead exposure is for children, and how much students rely on the 7 line to get to and from school," he said, calling on the MTA to entirely repaint the subway line.
The Department of Health referred calls to the MTA.
An MTA official said they "periodically" scrape and repaint train infrastructure, doing annual inspections with the Department of Environmental Protection to test the soil at parks adjacent to trains.
The MTA did not say when the 7 train was last fully scraped and repainted, or if they test any paint chips for possible lead.