Lead Poisoning Prevention in Erie County
Despite substantial progress, childhood lead poisoning remains a serious problem in Erie County and throughout New York State.
Nine of the county's zip codes - 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.
All of these zip codes lie within the City of Buffalo, but the conditions that give rise to lead poisoning can be found anywhere in Erie County. 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.
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.
To safeguard the children in your home or apartment from suffering the damaging effects of lead poisoning, it is necessary to keep the home clean and keep painted surfaces intact.
The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) offers the following programs that support the elimination of lead poisoning:
- Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (Case management of lead poisoned children in Erie County)
- Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program (Prevention of lead poisoning in children from being exposed to lead hazards)
For more information about these programs, or for general information on how to help prevent lead poisoning, contact the ECDOH Environmental Health Division at 716-961-6800.
For more Information on lead poisoning visit the following web sites:
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control
- Wipe Out Lead (CFGB)
- Housing Resource Guide
Are you performing any renovations on your property or hiring a contractor?
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.
Contractors who perform renovation, repairs, and painting 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).
For more information visit the EPA "RRP" website or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).