3 city armories used for kids, women’s shelters had lead levels above Army limit: audit

Three city armories that provide space for children’s programs and women’s shelters have had levels of lead the Army deems unsafe, a new state audit shows.

The Army’s National Guard recommends that any armory registering levels of lead of 40 micrograms per square foot during testing “suspend public rental space agreement[s]” and “close the facility to family members, the general public and pregnant women” until remediation occurs.

That standard is significantly higher than the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recommendation of 200 milligrams per square foot for armories, which deal with lead from weapons and guns.

But “my office’s audit still found troubling problems, including inadequate signage to warn the public, especially vulnerable adults and children, of the potential exposure to lead contamination,” New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli wrote in his report of the armories.

“The state’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs can do more to ensure the public’s safety.”

The report noted two armories in Manhattan and one in Queens have been in violation of the Army standard.

At the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan, about 10 percent of the space is used by the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House mental-health shelter for women and the rest by the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy for cultural and performing-arts events.

Tests there last year showed a lead sample over 500 micrograms in the building.

No signs were posted to warn the public of potential exposure in any part of the armory.

DMNA and Conservancy officials have said the contamination was the result of water damage to a ceiling, with lead paint from a leaking roof. Both entities said the issues have been fixed.

At the Harlem Armory in Manhattan, the Harlem Children’s Zone, which offers enrichment programs, occupies 28 percent of the facility.

A lead test after 2016 showed a level higher than the recommended Army maximum, the report said.

Remediation is ongoing — as the Children’s Zone remains open with no signs to inform the public of potential exposure, the state auditors said.

Steps have been taken to separate the Children’s Zone from the rest of the armory with a wall, separate vents and another entrance.

At the Jamaica Armory in Queens, a women’s shelter occupied 20 percent of the space before it was closed for lead remediation.

Testing in 2017 found excessive lead levels throughout the facility, including in the shelter regulated by the city Department of Homeless Services.

“DMNA officials stated that the area occupied by the women’s shelter is not federally supported and thus not subject to ARNG’s guidance regarding lead remediation, and the area inside the shelter was cleaned and tested again and came back below 40 micrograms per square foot,” the audit noted.

Military officials told The Post they are being extra cautious and that the facility is now entirely closed for lead remediation.

“The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) agrees with the recommendations of the OSC Audit as prudent measures taken for actions such as signage, hazardous awareness employee training and updating non-military use agreements,” a DMNA spokesman said.

“Non-military areas of the armories continue to comply with federal guidelines for lead dust exposure. The audit acknowledges that implementation of the 2015 revised National Guard Bureau standards of 40 micrograms per sf on surfaces exceeds these existing state or federal standards.

“DMNA fully intends to comply with all OSC audit recommendations.”

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