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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein 

Date: May 31, 2019 


CONTACT: Kara Kane, Public Information Officer

Email: kara.kane@erie.gov 

Phone: (716) 858-4941   



Healthy Homes Month focuses on air quality, fire safety and lead poisoning prevention

ERIE COUNTY, NY – This June, the Erie County Department of Health reminds homeowners and renters to “check your home and protect your family” as part of National Healthy Homes Month. A healthy home starts with assessing one’s house or apartment for potential hazards, and taking steps to make improvements and reduce the risk of harm or injury.


“The idea of a healthy home is one that we all appreciate,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “We want people to take a close look at the structure – roof, walls and foundation – and systems of a house or apartment, like heating, plumbing and electricity. Making repairs before problems begin can prevent extensive damage and the potential for health risks, and is often cheaper in the long run.”  


“There are questions that any homeowner or apartment dweller can ask as they walk around their property, like ‘What repairs have we been putting off?’ and ‘Are there hazards that could injure a child or older individual?’” explained Dr. Burstein. “Keeping a property dry, clean, pest-free, well-ventilated and well-maintained goes a long way towards keeping it and the people who live there healthy.”  


Water leaks, sewage issues, pests and high radon gas levels can contribute to an unhealthy home environment, as can the presence of lead and lead dust. “For Erie County, lead poisoning prevention is high on our list of priorities because of the extensive damage it can do to young children’s neurological development,” said Dr. Burstein. “We have dedicated staff and programs to identify lead poisoned children, give parents tools to reduce lead exposure, and connect qualifying properties with free or very low-cost paint remediation and home repairs.”


Several programs within the Department of Health’s Division of Environmental Health work to educate county residents on how to make their homes and properties safer.


In the Healthy Neighborhoods Program in the city of Buffalo, ECDOH staff work with residents in some city of Buffalo and city of Lackawanna ZIP codes to prevent lead poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning, emergency department visits related to asthma attacks, unintentional injuries and to reduce the risk of residential fire deaths, injury and property loss. As part of the LEADSAFE Erie County Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Program, free or very low cost lead paint remediation and minor home repairs are available to qualifying property owners, families and home-based day cares. And Lead Safe Work Practices for Homeowners classes are held regularly, teaching best practices for repairs, renovations and remodeling in pre-1978 housing. For more information on these programs call (716) 961-6800.


Not sure where to start? Focus on the basics:


  • Indoor Air Quality
    Eliminate second-hand tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide and dust mites. Don’t let anyone smoke in your home or near doors and windows. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is known as “The Invisible Killer.” Make sure that exhaust from all fuel burning devices, such as furnaces and hot water tanks, is vented properly to the outside air. Install CO2 detectors on every level and in every sleeping area. Test batteries monthly and replace batteries twice each year.


  • Slips and Falls
    Remove trip hazards like loose rugs; use stools and ladders carefully; install grab bars and railings for older adults; make sure stairways are well-lit.


  • Fire Safety
    Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, inside every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Test batteries monthly. Replace batteries twice each year in older smoke detectors, and consider upgrading new smoke detectors with a 10-year sealed and non-removable battery. Keep lighters, matches and candles out of the reach of children. Have at least one fire extinguisher in your home and make sure adults and older children know how to use it.


  • Lead Paint
    If your home or apartment was built before 1978, assume it has lead hazards. Address chipping and peeling paint, especially in window casings. Have your children’s blood levels tested at ages 1 and 2. Get trained in LEADSAFE renovations and repairs or seek a certified contractor.


  • Check Entrances and Exits
    Make sure that locks on windows and doors work correctly, and could be operated by your child in an emergency. Keep entrances and exits well-lit and clear of debris.




City of Buffalo Healthy Neighborhoods by ZIP code 
City of Buffalo: 14201, 14202, 14206, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213 and 14215; 14218 (City of Lackawanna).  Call the ECDOH at (716) 961-6800 and ask for a free "Healthy Neighborhoods visit.”


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: www.hud.gov/healthyhomes
Erie County Department of Health – Healthy Neighborhoods Program: www.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=healthy-neighborhoods-program-hnp