Lead Paint Rental Inspection In Buffalo, NY

Otolaryngology

14 Feb 2024 | 0 | by kjh

2570150login-checkLead Paint Rental Inspection In Buffalo, NY

Lead poisoning has long been an issue with rental properties in places like Buffalo, NY. In fact, the Erie County Health Department designated nine zip codes in the city as communities of concern due to elevated childhood lead poisoning.

Older properties tend to have toxic lead paint, and there are many in Buffalo. It is particularly problematic for children. Some of the challenges they face include social, emotional issues, lower IQ scores, speech and hearing difficulties, ADHD and behavioral problems.

That’s why in 2021 the Proactive Rental Inspections program was implemented. So far, Buffalo has completed 4,765 inspections out of 36,000 units covered under the legislation, and 415 certificates of compliance have been issued, according to Catherine Amdur, the city’s commissioner of permit and inspection services. This year, city inspectors have completed 140 PRI inspections and issued 46 certificates.

Residents are not happy with the number of inspections so they have formed a group including 39 community organizations. They have appealed to the City of Buffalo to inspect far more rental properties for toxic lead paint, as required by its own Proactive Rental Inspections local law. The community organizations delivered a letter to Mayor Byron W. Brown and Catherine Amdur, demanding documentation within 30 days to show the city is fully complying with the rental inspections required by the PRI legislation.

Residents are concerned since approximately 60% of Buffalo residents live in rental housing. The letter to the city cited documentation from the state Department of Health indicating that more than 200 children are poisoned by lead in Buffalo where most of the rental units are covered for inspection.

The legislation sends inspectors into all non-owner-occupied one- and two-family rental units. Properties that pose the greatest chance of causing lead poisoning in children are prioritized. Once the residences are approved, they issue a Certificate of Rental Compliance, which must be renewed every three years. Inspectors check for lead paint, infestation, safe exits, smoke detectors, carbon dioxide detectors, leaking pipes and more. The PRI inspections are performed at no cost to the owner.

Erie County’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program, which receives about $2 million in federal and New York State funds, is responsible for the case management of lead poisoned children in Erie County. The purpose of the program is to identify children under 6 years old with elevated blood lead levels, ensure medical follow-up and eliminate the source of lead exposure. The program also identifies and addresses lead hazards in high-risk ZIP codes in Erie County to prevent at-risk children from becoming poisoned by lead.

While the work that is being done is commendable, the residents are quite concerned about the number of children that could be poisoned by lead if the inspections are not expedited.  The city says they are doing the best they can.

There are many cities in the U.S. that have rental units that pose issues with lead poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to negatively affect a child’s intelligence, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. While the effects of lead poisoning may be permanent, if caught early, there are things parents can do [PDF – 234 KB] to prevent further exposure and reduce damage to their child’s health. Lead exposure occurs when a child comes in contact with lead by touching, swallowing, or breathing in lead or lead dust.

For more information about lead poisoning in children, visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm

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