Erie County has one of the highest blood lead testing rates in New York state. And most children with Elevated Lead Levels live in the city of Buffalo. That's according to a new report released by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and several partners including the city and the county.
Along with the report, the partners released a first-of-its-kind lead action plan with more than a dozen recommendations. They include requiring owners of rental housing to pass an interior inspection for peeling and flaking paint.
Mayor Byron Brown says the city has increased its rental registration fees to cover the cost of hiring a full-time lead coordinator.
"Our inspectors have increased inspections in areas of the city of Buffalo where children have tested with elevated lead levels. We have worked with the Buffalo Public Schools on distributing lead education flyers," And Brown says, the fliers have been translated into 8 different languages. "And that has been very helpful in educating families particularly our immigrant and refugee families."
County Executive Mark Poloncarz says, free lead remediation classes are offered by the Erie County Health Department almost every week. Most homes can be made safe for a few hundred dollars, but Poloncarz says,
"We have funds to assist those if they should need it with regards to remediating and covering up issues with lead paint on walls and windows. But the training is an important piece too. Because there are private entities that do this but they can be very expensive. You don't have to hire a private entity to do this. If you have proper training, as offered from our Department of Health, you can do it yourself," and Poloncarz says, the lead action plan provides "a concrete framework for taking the fight against lead to the next level."
To ensure action is taken, the partners will be creating a Lead Safe Task Force in the coming weeks.