Preventing Child Lead Exposure by Replacing Windows

Project Funder: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

Project Partners: NYU School of Medicine, New York City Health Department, Oneida County Health Department, and local weatherization agencies

Project Contacts: David E. Jacobs,, aa3.539.4157; Rick Nevin,

Project Description: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of NIH awarded a grant to implement lead-safe window replacement and build collaboration with local health departments and weatherization activities.

The grant will fund three efforts:

  1. New York State Demonstration Projects: NYU and NCHH will partner with New York City and Oneida County to compare the effectiveness, cost, and savings of weatherization work with and without window replacement.  The hypothesis is that greater energy savings and lead hazard reduction benefits can be realized with lead-safe window replacement.
  2. Outreach Communication: This effort will produce documents that explain energy savings and lead hazard reduction benefits of lead-safe window replacement. Although many government agencies and organizations are devoted to promoting child health initiatives, energy efficiency, and affordable housing, this outreach effort is unique in its commitment to communicating how energy efficient healthy housing investments can serve multiple policy objectives.
  3. Partnership Building: This “Windows of Opportunity” effort will build capacity and trust between local communities, researchers, government officials, mortgage underwriters, utilities, and foundations, as well as, partnerships between window manufacturers, government-assisted rehab and weatherization grantees, researchers, mortgage underwriters, home inspectors and appraisers, utilities, and foundations in order to achieve energy conservation and public health goals.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided substantial funding for a variety of housing and energy programs that could be used to support this effort. The near-term goal is to leverage and coordinate these ARRA funds to achieve multiple benefits from shared costs. The long-term goal is to establish market-based systems driven by informed consumers that demand for more energy efficient and healthy housing. The initiative will also document costs, verify expected benefits, and evaluate evidence of potential benefits.

The Lead-Safe Window Replacement Strategy: The lead-safe window replacement strategy was designed to realize the long-term energy savings and lead hazard reduction benefits of window replacement and protect against other lead paint hazards. Windows have the highest levels of lead in paint of any building component, lead paint chips are common in old window troughs, and friction surfaces on old windows create lead dust hazards even in homes without any deteriorated lead paint. Lead paint was banned after 1978, double-pane windows became widely used in cold climates in the 1980s, and low-e windows that reduce solar gain to save on air conditioning costs became common in the 1990s. As a result, single-pane windows in older housing are good indicators of lead paint hazards and inefficient energy use.

Combining lead-safe window replacement with other weatherization can reduce energy bills by 50%, increase home market value, and could also reduce the risk of asthma and other housing-related health risks. Lead-safe window replacement is defined as the following simple four-step upgrade in homes with single-pane windows:

  1. Replace all single-pane windows with Energy Star windows.
  2. Stabilize any significantly deteriorated paint.
  3. Perform specialized cleaning to remove any lead-contaminated dust.
  4. Perform dust wipe tests to confirm absence of lead dust hazards after cleanup.