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

Date: April 4, 2019 


CONTACT: Kara Kane, Public Information Officer


Phone: (716) 858-4941




Updates to Code Took Effect on April 1, 2019 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County’s Department of Health and its Division of Environmental Services have announced a series of changes to the Erie County Sanitary Code, effective April 1, 2019.


These changes were prompted in part by a 2017 report, Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens. This report was informed by Erie County, the City of Buffalo and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo key staff. It detailed practical policies to reduce lead poisoning and its associated poor health outcomes among Erie County residents.


“We’re making these changes to the county’s sanitary code as part of our initiatives for Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Buffalo has some of the oldest housing stock in the country and we know that lead is a hazard in our community.”


“Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are tremendously hazardous to the human body, especially young children, and children living at or below the poverty level face the greatest risks,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Gale R. Burstein. “We are combining policy efforts with existing programs in the Department of Health to reduce and eliminate the risks of lead poisoning for children in our community.” She continued, “Those programs include our Lead Safe Work Practices trainings for homeowners, contractors and veterans, case management for lead poisoned children, and free or low-cost lead paint remediation in the City of Buffalo and City of Lackawanna.”  


The Erie County Board of Health unanimously approved a set of recommendations related to the enforcement of Lead Safe Work Practices (LSWP), particularly in rental properties. As of April 1, 2019, repair and renovation work done to housing that was built prior to 1978 will be required to follow Lead Safe Work Practices.


In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put in place a Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule that required rental property managers and contractors working in pre-1978 housing to use lead safe work practices. The recent change in the Erie County Sanitary Code will close a loophole in the RRP rule that had exempted homeowners and some property owners from those requirements. Based on data from lead exposure and poisoning cases in Erie County, the vast majority of poisonings happen in one- and two-unit homes that do not fall under the EPA’s RRP Rule.


Failure to use LSWP has the potential to cause an imminent health and safety risk of lead poisoning, and Erie County has the ability to issue a Stop Work Order.


Examples of Lead Safe Work Practices include but are not limited to:

  • Interior containment of dust and debris in designated work area. Dust and debris shall not migrate outside of designated work area or contaminate other areas of the dwelling.
  • Exterior containment of dust and debris in designated work area. Dust and debris shall not migrate outside the designated work area or contaminate adjacent property.
  • General minimization of exposure to lead dust and debris, such as wet scraping of deteriorated painted surfaces and thorough cleaning, including HEPA vacuuming and wet cleaning of designated work area, to remove any dust residue.


The New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) has identified certain zip codes as “Communities of Concern” that have the highest incidence of confirmed elevated blood lead levels. In Erie County, high-risk ZIP codes include: 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213, and 14215. Each year, the incidence of confirmed elevated blood lead levels identified in these high-risk areas is more than double the overall incidence rate in Erie County. Children in these zip codes are at highest risk of becoming lead poisoned.


More information and training: