10/20/14: Erie County Gets Out the Message: Wipe Out Lead

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:19pm

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Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (at podium) is flanked by Congressman Brian Higgins, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, and community lead-abatement partners to announce the “Wipe Out Lead” billboard campaign and spotlight a $3 million federal lead remediation grant coming to Erie County to help identify & mitigate lead hazard risks in local homes. October is Lead Poisoning Prevention Month, and homeowners who live in older, at-risk homes are encouraged to have their homes and their children tested for lead exposure.

October is Lead Poisoning Prevention Awareness Month; Poloncarz, Higgins Spotlight $3 million Lead Remediation Grant, “Wipe Out Lead” Billboard Texting Campaign

ERIE COUNTY, NY— October is Lead Poisoning Prevention Month, and today Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, community lead-abatement partners, and concerned citizens to call attention both to a $3 million federal grant awarded to Erie County to identify & eliminate lead hazards in 180 local homes and to the “Wipe Out Lead” educational billboard campaign, which is now underway and features a number that concerned citizens can text to access lead resources. The $3 million grant was awarded in addition to another $400,000 in federal funds that will be used to perform assessments in up to 100 Erie County residences, identifying and mitigating lead hazard risks. Locally, the older housing stock in the City of Buffalo contains some of the highest levels of lead contamination in the County and will be addressed through the terms of the grant.

“Lead poisoning is a quiet, insidious destroyer of health that must be eliminated wherever possible, and with this grant we will have more resources to dedicate to this effort here in Erie County. In addition, the ‘Wipe Out Lead’ billboards and texting component are a great way to spread the word about lead and provide an easy way for concerned residents to get involved,” said County Executive Poloncarz. “Lead poisoning is preventable and I encourage homeowners who live in at-risk homes to have their homes and their children tested for exposure, and to learn more about eradicating lead poisoning in our community. Thanks to Congressman Brian Higgins and our other partners in government and in the community, Erie County homeowners will be safer, healthier, and closer to Wiping Out Lead“.

"Western New York's older homes add character to our communities but they can also pose risks to our children through exposure to lead paint," said Congressman Higgins, Co-chair of the Congressional Revitalizing Older Cities Task Force.  "These important federal resources support efforts that combine awareness with action to identify and remove hazards so we can better protect children from the devastating effects of lead poisoning."

The $3 million grant, from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, will provide the resources for the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) to work with NYSDOH and community partners to assess 180 homes for lead-paint hazards and correct them where they are found. Community partners in the lead-abatement and remediation effort include Heart of the City Neighborhood Services, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Belmont Housing Resources, Inc., West Side Neighborhood Housing, and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

Locally, the Erie County Department of Health conducts one of the most vigorous lead poisoning prevention programs in New York State. The Department’s Environmental Health Division has inspected over 5,600 units since 2009, 4,212 of which had confirmed or potential lead hazards. This robust effort is spearheaded by 25 full- and part-time staff.

Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein added, “Protecting children from lead and eliminating lead hazards in all environments is essential, and it all begins with an assessment and remediation where necessary. There is no reason to live with lead hazards, and ECDOH is proud to partner with community agencies to help eliminate this pervasive threat and create a safer, healthier community.”

An innovative component of the “Wipe Out Lead” campaign allows the use of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s ‘Grow 716’ communications tool to connect a community member with regional resources through texting. The partnership with Grow 716 has allowed the ECDOH to add texting capacity to its Wipe Out Lead Hotline. Community members can text “LEAD” to 877-877 to begin an automated exchange that provides prompt-driven lead-safety information regarding testing, work practices, and more. If the user is unable to get the information they are seeking, their number is placed on a list for a follow up call at a time that is convenient for them.

Cara Matteliano, Vice-President of Community Impact for the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, said, “The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is honored to again partner with Erie County to eradicate lead poisoning from our community. Through the use of our mobile communications tool, Grow 716, residents in the areas of greatest need can easily connect with resources to make their homes safer and children healthier – all by texting ‘LEAD’ to 877-877.”

The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) offers the following programs that support the elimination of lead poisoning:

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.

More information on lead poisoning awareness, education and prevention can be found at: