Local, state leaders work to combat risk for lead poisoning in Erie County

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – We told you here on News 4 the Erie County Health Department has come up with nine zip codes in Buffalo where there is heightened risk for kids getting lead poisoning. Lead has been an issue in Western New York since the 1980’s when many homes had lead paint.

Much of Western New York has been active in helping those affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. But now, we have an issue of our own.

Buffalo Common Council President and Pastor Darius Pridgen said, “When we learned that we have high levels of lead here in children, and some estimate it as double the amount of what Flint has,I thoght it was very important to pay the same amount of attention here in Buffalo as we did in Flint.”

This can happen easily if your kids chew on paint chips or breathe in dust residue. Now Common Council is buying instant lead tests in bulk, and giving them out at the True Bethel Baptist Church. They’re free to those who feel their family may be in immediate danger of lead poisoning.

Pridgen said, “I don’t care if they belong to my church or live in my district, this is a Buffalo concern.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is giving a $350 thousand dollar grant to Buffalo to help stop this issue from getting worse. It’s called the Buffalo Green and Healthy Homes initiative.

He said, “Because of the age of the housing stock,many homes predate the banning of lead paint. And as we’ve seen again with the recent contamination of the water supply in Flint, Michigan, investments must be made.”

The money comes from settlement funds from lead contamination lawsuits. Pridgen said this exposure to lead poisoning is something he wants to stop now:

He said, “One thing I will never be guilty of, is knowing that we have a problem and not educating people how to stay safe.”

Since 2008, Erie County has inspected nearly 13,000 homes and has taken 1,400 landlords to housing court to get them to make repairs.

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