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“Rochester leads on lead while Buffalo dallies”


The Investigative Post and WGRZ in Buffalo have co-produced a series this week on continuing lead poisoning problems in Buffalo. The series compares the situation in Buffalo to Rochester, where community-wide lead poisoning prevention program have been much more successful. Thanks to Investigative Post Editor Jim Heaney for raising awareness with this effort.

New York State has chosen not to adopt the EPA model lead hazard control certification program, evidenced most recently in 2008 when then Gov. David Paterson vetoed a bill to enable State agencies to establish the infrastructure for enforcing lead safe work practices, training and hazard evaluation. An outcome of this decision is that communities across the State are on their own to establish standards for identifying and controlling lead based paint hazards. County health departments make a great effort to help children who have been lead poisoned and several of the larger counties have funding to proactively evaluate housing and assist owners, but without a housing code enforcement element, the conditions that lead to lead hazards shall continue to plague residents of poorly maintained or recently renovated properties.

New York City instituted an aggressive lead regulation in 2004, wherein multi-family property owners are required to evaluate paint conditions in dwellings annually and use lead safe work practice to correct potential hazards. Tenants are encouraged to contact the City housing agency if they suspect lead based paint hazards and NYC housing inspectors may cite or fine landlords who fail to provide lead safe dwellings. Other communities like Utica have made lead safety a priority, where City and County officials work hand-in-hand with landlords, contractors and workforce development organizations to create a “win-win” for property owners, tenants and contractors. Syracuse/Onondaga Co, Albany, Chautauqua and Westchester counties operate successful HUD lead grant programs that subsidize lead hazard control in private and Federally assisted housing.

The disparity between Buffalo and Rochester is disappointing for sure, but not unexpected, given the widely varying evolution of lead hazard control programs in these communities. We’d all be better served if the State would standardize the effort by embracing the opportunity that EPA offers.

Here are a couple upcoming sessions that you should be aware of:

Lead Inspector Recertification, November 21, Rochester
Lead Supervisor Recertification, November 20, Rochester
Lead Renovator Certification, November 24, Buffalo
Lead Inspector Certification, Dec 1-3, Buffalo
Lead Risk Assessor Certification, Dec 4-5, Buffalo

Don’t forget about asbestos, mold and safety training, too! Get your refreshers before it’s too late.

Be well!