Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Wipe Out Lead

Why it Matters

Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contain high levels of lead. Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly. When children breathe or ingest lead dust, they can become poisoned and get very sick.

Every year, hundreds of children are diagnosed with lead poisoning due to exposure to lead hazards during home repairs and renovations. It is crucial to prevent children from ingesting lead or lead dust in any form, from any source. One way to prevent lead ingestion is through the implementation of lead safe work practices. These practices are simple safeguards everyday homeowners can take during home-improvement projects to keep themselves and families safe from lead dust. Another way is through the practice of the EPA’s Renovate, Repair, and Paint rules for property owners, landlords and contractors. Making sure contractors, landlords and other property owners follow these rules is critical to lessen and prevent the spread of lead and lead dust in the home.

Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, on behalf of a dedicated group of partners including the City of Buffalo and Erie County, was pleased to share a first-of-its-kind Lead Action Plan with the community on March 27, 2018.


Recognizing that lead poisoning permanently reduces a child’s ability to learn and is preventable, the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) was commissioned to evaluate comprehensive lead poisoning data and conduct community interviews. The result is a report entitled: Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens.

The study was funded by the City of Buffalo and early childhood funders including the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. This assessment was advised by the WNY Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning and data support was provided by the Erie County Department of Health. The Partnership for Public Good also assisted with community engagement.

Visit to learn more about the Lead Action Plan.

Classes to Renovate Right!

Are you a homeowner or Do-It-Yourselfer planning a home renovation? You can protect yourself and your family by learning about Lead Safe Work Practices.

The Erie County Department of Health offers “how to” lead safe classes for homeowners who are renovating, repairing or painting their own pre-1978 homes.

Lead Safe Work Practices classes are FREE, but registration is required. Please click here for a list of available classes and to register, or call (716) 961-6800 for more information.

Are you a property manager, landlord or rental property owner planning work on pre-1978 rental property, including owner occupied units?

Work in pre-1978 rental property must be done following EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). For a list of local RRP training sites, please click here.

Learn More

For more information about how to protect your family from lead, please click here.

For more information about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, please click here.

For a practical guide to the steps to working Lead Safe, please click here.

Water Testing

If you are concerned about the potential for lead in water pipes in your home, New York State also offers a water testing pilot program, which is free and available to anyone who wants to apply. For information on the program, click here.

Thousands of children in Erie County have already fallen victim to lead poisoning, and Western New York is a hotbed of lead paint hazards. One-third of all lead poisoning cases reported in New York State (outside of New York City) are located in nine zip codes in Buffalo: 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213 and 14215--making our region one of the most dangerous for young children nationwide.

While lead is potentially harmful to individuals at any age, it is especially dangerous for children under the age of six. Lead poisoning causes permanent neurological damage including loss of I.Q., developmental delays, learning disabilities, memory loss, hearing loss, attention deficits, hyperactivity, and behavioral disorders. In extreme cases, lead exposure can result in organ failure and death.

The good news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable, and there are things you can do to help protect your family and our community:

  1. Test your children and home for lead
  2. Feed your children a healthy diet
  3. Learn how to do lead-safe home repairs and remodeling
  4. Avoid exposing your family to lead
  5. Volunteer your time and resources to help us help those most at risk

By working together, we can Wipe Out Lead!

Learn More

The Erie County Department of Health has the following programs entirely dedicated to support the elimination of lead poisoning:

For more information about these programs, or for general information on how to help prevent lead poisoning, Buffalo residents, call 311. Erie County residents, call (716) 961-6800.

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