It was a seemingly off-hand detail in a recent New York Times story, but concerned Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents picked it up quickly—McCarren Park contains elevated lead levels. 

The story concerned how a new Adams administration communications directive has frustrated many elected officials, including City Council Member Lincoln Restler, who found it difficult to interface with city government once a local group alerted him about lead in the highly trafficked park. 

The original Times story didn’t share many details, but additional information has emerged, thanks to North Brooklyn Neighbors, who performed the lead testing. Their findings indicate that specific areas, such as the area near the Driggs Avenue and North 12th Street intersection, are heavily contaminated with lead. However, the group notes that many areas of the park are safe (and has offered tips on how to take precautions).

Below are photos showing the contaminated areas. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advises that lead levels should not exceed 400 ppm; several areas went above that threshold. 

The NYC Parks Department confirmed with Greenpointers that they added mulch to areas with exposed soil, but Restler says the city should do more.


“We received a troubling briefing from North Brooklyn Neighbors about their findings that showed elevated lead levels in the soil at McCarren Park. We immediately requested a discussion with the Parks and Health Departments to address these conditions. Despite public health concerns, we were rebuffed and asked to fill out forms by the Adams administration,” Restler shared in a statement to Greenpointers. 

“Elevated lead levels for young children are overwhelmingly caused by lead paint chips and dust from lead paint, but we take all lead related issues seriously. We understand the Parks Department has added mulch to the affected areas and we are continuing to push Parks and Health to properly mitigate potential risk.”

This appears to be a perennial issue in the park. A 2019 study from WNYC found high amounts in different areas, which is unfortunately unsurprising considering that there used to be a lead paint factory next to McCarren.

Join the Conversation


  1. If a lead paint factory was near the park, was proper remediation done before new construction replaced it, and who was responsible for doing that (or not)? Also from the map of the worst hot spots, it is clear that they are areas adjacent to the main automobile arteries running thru the park. That might be contamination from the historic use of lead tainted gasoline in the past, but we need to determine that . If soil near our streets is lead contaminated (even years later) then I would definitely not consume any food plants grown in such areas. Can the lead in such street adjacent soils become airborne and adversely affect young children? Questions need answers,

  2. Horrible news !!! Between the 17 million gallons of crude still under a large part of Greenpoint that will never be recovered and elevated lead levels, its hard to believe anyone would actually want to live in Greenpoint anymore. It seems our beloved part of Brooklyn is literally a toxic waste dump.

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