Investigative Post: Buffalo’s childhood lead poisoning epidemic underreported

Feb 8, 2018

The extent of Buffalo’s childhood lead poisoning epidemic may be worse than documented by government agencies. Many children may not be getting tested for lead in their blood in a city that has been described as “ground zero” for the lead poisoning across upstate New York.


Schools have proposed organizing free lead screenings for incoming kindergarten and pre-K students at community schools and mobile health clinics.
Credit Dan Telvock

Some 1,000 children in Buffalo are diagnosed every year with dangerous levels of lead in their blood. That number is based on young children who get tested for lead poisoning. But not all do.

In fact, Buffalo public school officials could verify that only about half the children enrolled in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten have been tested at least once for lead poisoning. That means more than 2,100 pupils either were not tested or their test results did not get reported to authorities. No one knows how many of them have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

State law requires children get tested twice for lead poisoning before they turn 3 years old. But because of a lack of data, no one—including city school officials—knows for sure how many children in the city meet that requirement.

Click here to read the complete report from Investigative Post's Dan Telvock.