Relationship of Lead-Painted Fire Escapes and Interior Dust Lead

Project Funder: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Project Partner: New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and New York City Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Project Contact: Jonathan Wilson,, 443.539.4162

What we studied: The study goal was to investigate the relationship between lead-based paint on untreated fire escapes and interior dust lead levels in dwelling treated for lead hazards six to 24 months before.

Why it matters: Untreated fire escapes may adversely impact the long-term success of interior lead hazard control work.

What we found: Fire escapes did not contribute significantly to dust lead loadings in rooms connected to fire escapes, although marginally significant contributions were found for sill results. In both control and fire escape rooms, sill dust lead loadings (medians 234 and 333 mg/ft2, respectively) were unexpectedly high considering dwellings had recently undergone lead remediation. The study’s small sample size was likely not powerful enough to tease out untreated fire escape impacts from spatial variability and other exterior lead sources such as smokestacks, neighboring construction, or street dust.

Project Description

The study was designed to determine whether dust lead loadings on the window sills and floors of treated rooms located directly adjacent to untreated fire escapes (“fire escape rooms”) were significantly higher than those collected from the same components in nearby rooms in the same dwellings with no connection to the fire escape (“control rooms”). In lead-remediated apartments in 12 multifamily buildings, interior floor dust wipe samples were collected from immediately below one window in the two sets of rooms. Sill wipes were collected from the same two windows.


Impact of Untreated Fire Escapes on Interior Dust Lead Loadings: Final Report


Latest page update: April 4, 2024.