BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Queen City may be at the epicenter of the lead poisoning dilemma, but the problem that won't go away doesn't stop at its borders.
Erie County continues to rank as the second highest in detected lead poisoning cases in New York State.
According to Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner, "As a pediatrician, I know very well that of all the toxic effects can have, especially to young children. It causes permanent damage, which is really avoidable."
The Erie County Health Department is gearing up for Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and will be offering "Safe Home" classes at various community centers and libraries next week.
"We see this mostly in the older homes, remember, that used to have the beautiful shinny lead paint," added Dr. Burstein.
In those homes that have been tested, lead is being detected in as many as 95 to 98 percent of older City of Buffalo dwellings, mainly on the east side and west side. But the suburbs are not exempt.
Thomas Muscarella, Lead Program Manager at the Erie County Health Department said, "Once you hit the suburbs there's less, but you still find it because there are a lot of pre-1978 homes out there."
Lead poison exposure testing done during wellness visits to the doctor's office are helping to identify the risk and the numbers are staggering.
"For lead poisoning cases, we have approximately 350 to 400 per year. As far as elevations there are another 700 to 800," said Rebecca Henry, also a Lead Program Manager at the Erie County Health Department.
Unfortunately, not all doctors have the resources to draw blood and some kids are falling through the cracks. In the meantime, the county lead prevention programs will continue to slowly prod through at-risk neighborhoods in order to identify potential problems.
"It's really critical that we identify this at a very young age because at a young age, children, their developmental process is the fastest and lead can really put a stop on that and can cause developmental delays," added Dr. Burstein.
Families without health insurance can contact the Erie County Health Department at (716) 961-6800 to arrange free lead testing for their children.
Here is a listing of "Lead Safe Home Classes" being held by the Erie County Health Department:
- 10/22 – 3:30 – 8 p.m. Table display with staff present, Riverside Library, 820 Tonawanda Street, Buffalo
- 10/23 – 3:30 p.m. University District Community Center, 995 Kensington Avenue, Buffalo
- 10/23 – 6:30 p.m. Old First Ward Community Center, 62 Republic Street, Buffalo
- 10/24 – 6:30 p.m. Gloria Parks Community Center, 3242 Main Street, Buffalo
- 10/25 - 6:30 p.m. Clarence Public Library, 3 Town Place, Clarence
- 10/26 – 3:30 p.m. Lt. Col. Matt Urban HOPE Center, 385 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo
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