The major cause of lead poisoning in Buffalo is lead based paint, found in virtually all houses built before 1978 when lead was banned. Over 90 percent of Buffalo’s housing was built before 1978, and the main problem is deteriorated paint (chipped, peeled or dust). Nine of the highest risk zip codes for lead poisoning are in Buffalo: 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213 and 14215–making our region one of the most dangerous for young children nationwide.
Lead poisoning 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 preventable, and prevention requires collaboration on every level. The Community Foundation has been working with partners to reduce childhood lead poisoning since 2008. Preventing childhood lead poisoning is also part of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a systems change effort begun in 2011, where community based organizations, and public and private funders coordinate resources and programs to make homes energy efficient, lead safe and healthy for low-income families in Erie County.
Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens
The Community Foundation, 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.
Buffalo & Erie County Lead Safe Task Force
Reducing lead poisoning cannot be accomplished by any one player. The Community Foundation convenes the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force, comprised of the City of Buffalo, Erie County government, the Buffalo Public Schools, the medical community, non-profit leaders, philanthropy, and residents. This team is charged with ensuring that the recommendations are implemented, monitored and reported to the community on a bi-annual basis.
In October 2019, the Buffalo & Erie County Lead Safe Task Force provided a progress update on a collaborative effort to protect children from lead poisoning. To see a list of the collective results of its first year of work, please click here.
As part of this progress update, the partners unveiled an upcoming public education campaign entitled “Get Ahead of Lead.” The campaign includes a website, now live at www.GetAheadofLead.org, along with several community engagement tools and activities that are scheduled for official rollout next spring when renovation work picks up again. What makes this campaign unique is the use of human-centered design in its development, meaning that the target audience of landlords was included in the input and feedback during every step of development.
The Erie County Department of Health has the following programs entirely dedicated to support the elimination of lead poisoning:
- Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program – Prevention of lead poisoning in children from being exposed to lead hazards. Click here.
- Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Program – Remediation and control of lead hazards available to property owners, qualifying families, and home-based day cares. Click here.
By working together, we can Get Ahead of Lead!