66 pieces of Erie County Parks equipment test high for lead levels

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The commissioner of Erie County Department of Parks and Recreation confirmed Thursday that 66 structures in the Erie County Parks system have been cordoned off with caution tape after test results showed that they had high levels of lead-based paint.

The update came three weeks after Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw discovered high levels of lead-based paint on playground equipment. After testing about 200 shelters, picnic tables and playground items, the Erie County Parks Commissioner, Troy Schinzel, confirms that about a third of them had high enough levels to put caution tape around them. 66 structures in various Erie County Parks have chipping or peeling lead based paint

“When we get our staff safely trained and hopefully out there next week, we’ll start removing some pieces,” said Schinzel. “We’ll encapsulate others, iconic pieces that mean a lot to the community, the pumpkin at Akron, some others.”

The Parks Commissioner says, after four members of his crew receive lead-safety training on Friday, he expects 66 of the roped off items to either be removed or sealed within two to three weeks.

“Even a very small amount of lead through dust or peeling paint can cause serious or lifelong damage to a child’s health,” said Stefan Mychajliw, Erie County Comptroller. “That’s very serious and quite alarming.”

But Dr. Gale Burstein, the commissioner of the Erie County Department of Health, sees it differently. “I believe there is a very low risk of lead exposure from park equipment.”

Dr. Burstein says she knows of no documented cases of a child ingesting lead from county playground equipment but there are eight local cases this year alone of kids ingesting lead from peeling paint in their own homes.

“We know where we are seeing the exposures to elevated blood lead levels,” said Dr. Burstein. “It’s in the homes.”

John Bruso, the Erie County Legislator who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, asked the Parks Commissioner to provide an update on the cleanup by September 1.

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