Federal officials are investigating a complaint lodged against the Buffalo Zoo about employees being potentially exposed to lead paint dust during renovations of the Reptile House.
“We did have a complaint, and we went out there on Friday and opened up an inspection,” said Michael Scime, the area director for the Federal Department of Labor.
“We took some samples and we sent them out for analysis and we will go from there.”
The $3.7 million renovation of the Reptile House is on hold because of the complaint. The project includes a $300,000 state grant and $267,000 from the City of Buffalo for work that includes a new roof.
Buildings built before 1978 are presumed to contain lead paint. The Reptile House was built in 1942.
Exposure to lead can cause a host of health problems, including damage to kidneys, the nervous system. Lower levels can make workers nauseous, fatigued and anemic.
Federal law requires an exposure assessment to be performed before renovations in older buildings that might contain lead paint or asbestos. It is unclear of the Zoo completed the assessment.
The Department of Labor has six months to issue its findings.
Zoo officials refused to discuss the matter with WIVB.
“The Buffalo Zoo is cooperating fully with OSHA’s investigation regarding work done in the Reptile House after the building was closed to the public,” Zoo officials wrote in a prepared statement.