Lead Poisoning Prevention

Erie County Department of Health
Environmental Health Division
503 Kensington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-961-6800
Fax: 716-961-6880 
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Welcome to LeadSAFE Erie County, the Erie County Department of Health’s (ECDOH) comprehensive program to prevent lead poisoning. Here, you will find information about lead poisoning and the services available through the ECDOH and our community partners to eliminate lead poisoning.

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Lead Poisoning Prevention in Erie County

Despite significant progress, childhood lead poisoning remains a serious problem in Erie County and throughout New York State. Every year thousands of children under the age of six are diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels in Erie County. Thousands more are exposed to lead hazards in their homes every day.

Conditions that give rise to lead poisoning can be found anywhere in Erie County however they are especially prevalent in neighborhoods that have a high amount of older housing. Nine of the county's zip codes which lie within the City of Buffalo - 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213, and 14215 - have been designated by the Department of Health as “Communities of Concern”, where children are at exceptionally high risk for lead poisoning. Click here for a map of Communities of Concern.

Lead and Lead Poisoning

Lead is an element found naturally in the earth’s crust that has been mined and used by people for thousands of years. It is useful in manufacturing, surface coatings and glazes, automobile batteries, and a variety of industrial processes. Up until 1978, lead was used in many house paints. Even today, deteriorating lead-based paint in homes can lead to high (and unsafe) concentrations of lead in house dust.

Like iron, calcium and magnesium, lead is a metal. However, unlike those minerals, which are needed by the human body, lead is a poison – even in very small amounts. It can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death. Young children, when exposed to high levels of lead in house dust, are particularly vulnerable. Since there is NO medical treatment to permanently reverse the adverse health effects of lead exposure in children, it is critical to focus on prevention. If you live in pre 1978 housing, it is important to safeguard the children in your home or apartment from suffering the damaging effects of lead poisoning, by keeping the home clean and keeping painted surfaces intact.

For more information on how you can protect your family, please contact LEADSAFE Erie County at 716-961-6800 or email us at leadsafe@erie.gov.  You can also visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

In response LEADSAFE Erie County offers the following programs that support the prevention and elimination of lead poisoning: 
  1. Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program - Responsible for case management of lead poisoned children in Erie County. The program conducts investigations and provides information to the parents of children under the age of 18 that have tested positive for elevated blood lead levels. 
  2. Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program - Provides assistance to families with children under the age of six living in Erie County to reduce exposure of lead hazards and prevent lead poisoning. 
  3. Lead Hazard Control Program (LHC) - Provides FREE or very low cost lead paint remediation and minor home repairs to qualifying properties located in Erie County including the City of Buffalo and the City of Lackawanna. 
Home Renovation, Repair and Painting 

If you are performing any renovations or repairs on your pre 1978 house or plan on hiring a contractor, then you need to work lead safe! Doing the work yourself? Get trained! 

Get certified and learn how to perform Lead Safe Work Practices. Every year hundreds of children are diagnosed with lead poisoning due to exposure of lead hazards during home repairs and renovations. 

The Erie County Department of Health offers FREE classes on how to protect you and your family from being exposed to lead hazards while doing renovations in your pre 1978 home. Classes are open to the public and are offered monthly. Registration is required. For more information or to register call 716-961-6800.

Class Schedule & Registration: Lead Safe Work Practices Training for Homeowners 

Make sure they are certified in RRP! Contractors who perform renovation, repairs, and painting in pre 1978 housing as part of their jobs need to have this certification and must take special precautions around paint that may contain lead. Be sure to ask your contractor about their certification(s).
Under strict EPA rules that took effect on April 22, 2010, special certification is required for all home improvement activity in housing built before 1978 and in ANY child occupied facility. This rule, "Renovating, Repairing and Painting (RRP)" is intended to ensure that any activity that disturbs paint in older housing is performed using lead-safe work practices. For more information visit the EPA "RRP" website or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). 

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