Lead Poisoning Prevention

New Database: Properties Built Before 1978 (Pre-1978 Properties) in Erie County, NY

  • Use this new database to find out what year the house you are living in was built. 
  • If your house was built before 1978, then you should assume that your home has lead in it and take steps to protect your household and reduce the risk of lead poisoning.
  • Lead dust is the most common way children are poisoned by lead.

LeadSAFE Erie CountyLead Safe Erie County Logo

Welcome to LeadSAFE Erie County, the Erie County Department of Health’s (ECDOH) program to prevent lead poisoning. You will find information here about lead poisoning, trainings, programs, and services available to you from the ECDOH and our community partners.

What is Lead?

  • Lead is a metal that is found in the earth and it is used in industry to make surface coatings and glazes, car batteries, and other things.
  • Lead is a poison even in very small amounts. 
  • Lead can cause learning and behavior problems. At very high levels it can cause seizures, coma and even death. Young children are especially at risk.
  • Until 1978, lead was used in many house paints. Even today, chipping and peeling lead paint in homes can lead to unsafe levels of lead in house dust.  Keep your home clean and make sure there is no peeling paint on any surfaces. 
  • There is NO treatment to permanently reverse the harmful effects of lead in children, so we must prevent it. 

How are Children Poisoned by Lead?

Child wth toyChildren eat or breath in lead or lead dust.  A very small amount of lead will poison a child. 

Places where lead is found:

What Can Parents Do to Keep Their Children Safe from Lead?

Lead poisoning prevention starts at home! 

Ways to keep children safe:

Lead Poisoning in Erie County

Every year thousands of children under the age of 6 years old are diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels  inin Erie County. Thousands more are exposed to lead hazards in their homes every day.  Conditions that can cause lead poisoning can be found anywhere in Erie County, however they are especially found neighborhoods that have a high amount of older housing.

  • Communities of Concern: Nine zip codes in Erie County have been designated by the NY State Department of Health as “Communities of Concern."  These zip codes are: 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213, and 14215 (map of Communities of Concern).  Children in these zip codes are at exceptionally high risk for lead poisoning.

Home Renovation/Repair/Painting (RRP) and TrainingsPeeling paint on house

If you are hiring a contractor, make sure they are certified in RRP.  Contractors who perform renovation, repairs, and painting (RRP) in pre-1978 housing need to have this certification and must take special precautions around paint that may contain lead. Under the strict EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule, which took effect on April 22, 2010, special certification is required for all home improvement work in housing built before 1978 and in ANY child occupied facility. This rule is intended to ensure that any activity that disturbs paint in older housing is performed using lead-safe work practices.  For more information, visit the EPA RRP website or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). 

Training for Homeowners: Free Lead Safe Work Practices Training

Learn how to work safely around lead when remodeling, repairing, or painting your home.  Every year hundreds of children are diagnosed with lead poisoning due to exposure of lead during home repairs and renovations. 

  • Who should attend this free training?
    • Any homeowner who lives in pre-1978 housing who performs repairs, renovations or remodeling themselves.
    • Any homeowner who lives in pre-1978 housing and is planning to hire a contractor can learn about the federal requirements for contractors to perform work in a lead safe manner.
    • Any occupant who lives in pre-1978 housing can learn about the requirements for property managers and landlords to perform work on their rental units in a lead safe manner.
    • Note: This class does NOT meet EPA RRP requirements for professional contractors or property owners/managers working on rental property.
  • Cost:  Free
  • Dates, Location & Registration

Training for Landlords, Property Managers and Contractors: Renovation, Repair & Painting (RRP) Certification Class Leadsafe EPA logo

The EPA RRP Rule requires that all renovations, repairs, and painting performed in pre-1978 housing must be done by or under the supervision of a certified renovator. 

  • Who should attend this 8-hour training?
    • All landlords, property managers and contractors are required to take this course.
    • This course is also ideal for those interested in or currently working in building trades such as painters, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. This certification could lead to a competitive advantage when seeking a job!
  • Cost: $110; Free for Veterans (must show military ID)
  • Dates, Location & Registration

Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs in Erie County

Lead FAQs 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lead

See below for commonly asked questions.  If you have additional questions, please call the ECDOH Lead Program at 716-961-6800 or send an e-mail to leadsafe@erie.gov.

How can I find out if the house I am living in has ever been tested for Lead?

“Testing” for the presence of lead in a home generally refers to using an EPA approved testing method, such as dust sampling or a surface by surface paint inspection using an x-ray fluorescence analyzer (XRF), to detect lead.  As part of the County’s lead poisoning prevention programs, the Department of Health (ECDOH) does sometimes test homes in Erie County. 

You can find out if Erie County has ever tested your home for lead, however, please be advised that Erie County has no information regarding any other lead testing that may or may not have been done at your address. 

In order to obtain information regarding ECDOH using dust samples or an XRF to confirm the presence of lead at your address, you must submit a Freedom of Information request (FOIL)

Disclosure Rule: The owner/seller of a property is required by law to disclose the results of any lead testing done on the home to buyer/occupants. 

Your house may not have ever been tested for lead, but that doesn’t mean no lead is present. Anyone owning or living in housing built before 1978 should be aware of the potential danger of lead. The Erie County Sanitary Code established presumption of lead in pre-1978 housing that requires use of lead safe work practices when renovating repairing or painting. Every year hundreds of children are diagnosed with lead poisoning due to exposure to lead hazards during home repairs and renovations performed in pre-1978 housing without lead safe work practices.

Do home test kits for lead really work?

You may have heard about home test kits, which are sold for use in the home to detect lead in paint, soil, and dust (and, in some cases, water, dishware, glasses, and ceramics). A chemical reaction occurs when chemicals in the kit are exposed to lead, causing a color change. The State Department of Health and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency do not recommend home test kits to detect lead in toys, paint, dust, or soil. Studies show that these kits are not reliable enough to tell the difference between high and low levels of lead. At this time, the kits are not recommended for testing performed by either homeowners or certified lead-based paint professionals.

What are Lead Safe Work Practices? Do I have to use them?

“Lead Safe Work Practices” are how workers or do-it-yourself homeowners can keep themselves and other family members or occupants safe from lead exposure when remodeling or making repairs in pre-1978 housing. In Erie County, lead safe work practices are required.

Lead was not banned from residential paint until 1978, so it is extremely likely that any home built before 1978 has some lead paint on it. The older the home, the more likely there is lead. Home owners and workers in Erie County must assume that any paint on pre-1978 housing has lead in it. This presumption is part of County law.

The Erie County Sanitary Code Article IX: Housing Hygiene and Property Maintenance states:

From Section 1.22: General Requirements Relating to Safe and Sanitary Property Maintenance

(i) Lead in Housing.

(1)  Presumption

For all residential properties, pre-school facilities or child care facilities constructed prior to January 1, 1978, it is presumed that the paint on any structures, equipment, exterior property, premises, dwellings, dwelling units, or parts thereof is lead based paint. 

When remodeling or repair work disturbs lead paint, it creates a dangerous lead dust hazard. Only a very small amount of lead dust is needed to poison a child. A child’s developing brain and nervous system are especially vulnerable to lead’s toxicity. An adult can also be poisoned if he or she doesn’t take precautions when working around lead. 

You can protect yourself and your family from dangerous lead hazards by using lead safe work practices. Erie County offers free classes on Lead Safe Work Practices. For more information see Lead Safe Work Practices Training for Homeowners

The Erie County Sanitary Code Article IX: Housing Hygiene and Property Maintenance defines “Lead Safe Work Practices” as follows: 

From Section 1.7:  Definitions

(ee)  LEAD SAFE WORK PRACTICES shall mean the method by which all lead hazard control activities are performed.  This includes, but is not limited to, implementing those dust control and clean-up methods discussed in the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule or as approved by the Erie County Commissioner of Health.  These work methods are intended to limit the exposure of workers and occupants to lead dust and debris during correction and control of lead hazards and during regular maintenance, painting or renovation performed in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978. These methods include, but are not limited to:

(1) Interior Containment:

(i) Removing all objects in the work area or covering all objects in the work area with plastic sheeting or other disposable impermeable material.

(ii) Closing and covering all forced air HVAC ducts in the work area with plastic sheeting or other disposable impermeable material.

(iii) Closing all windows in the work area.

(iv) Covering the floor surface, including installed carpet, in the work area with taped-down plastic sheeting or other disposable impermeable material.     

(2) Exterior Containment:

(i)Covering the ground with plastic sheeting or other disposable impermeable material extending 10 feet beyond the perimeter of surfaces undergoing renovation or a sufficient distance to collect falling paint debris, whichever is greater.

(ii) Closing all doors and windows within 20 feet of the renovation. On multi-story buildings, close all doors and windows within 20 feet of the renovation on the same floor as the renovation, and close all doors and windows on all floors below that are the same horizontal distance from the renovation.

(iii) Taking additional precautions in containing the designated work area to ensure that dust and debris from the renovation does not contaminate other buildings or other areas of the property or migrate to adjacent properties, as needed.

(iv) Avoiding working in high winds whenever possible to keep dust and debris from migrating from designated work area to adjacent properties.

(3) General Minimization of Exposure to Lead Dust and Debris:

(i) Closing and sealing all doors in the work area. Doors within the work area that must be used while the job is being performed must be covered with plastic sheeting or other impermeable material in a manner that allows workers to pass through, while confining dust and debris to the work area.

(ii) Wet scraping of deteriorated painted surfaces.

(iii) Thorough cleaning, including HEPA vacuuming and wet cleaning of work area, to remove any dust residue.

(iv) All personnel, tools, and other items, including the exterior of containers of waste, must be free of dust and debris when leaving the work area. 

The Erie County Sanitary Code requires the use of “Lead Safe Work Practices” when performing general maintenance of pre-1978 housing and when correcting conditions conducive to lead poisoning that have been identified by the Erie County Health Department as follows: 

From Section 1.22: General Requirements Relating to Safe and Sanitary Property Maintenance

(a) General.  Every foundation, roof and exterior wall, door, skylight and window shall be reasonably weather-tight, watertight, and damp-free and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.  Floors, interior walls, doors and ceilings shall be sound and in good repair.  All exterior wood surfaces other than decay resistant woods shall be protected from the elements and decay by paint or other protective covering or treatment.  Lead based and other toxic paints and materials shall not be used on any surface.  Walls shall be capable of affording privacy for the occupants.  Every premise shall be maintained in a clean, sanitary and safe condition.  The presence of noxious weeds shall be prohibited.

(1) Maintenance in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978. Whenever routine maintenance, painting or renovation is performed in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978, lead safe work practices approved by the Erie County Commissioner of Health shall be followed. Lead safe work practices include (but are not limited to):

(i) Interior Containment of dust and debris in designated work area. Dust and debris shall not migrate outside of designated work area or contaminate other areas of the dwelling.

(ii) Exterior containment of dust and debris in designated work area. Dust and debris shall not migrate outside the designated work area or contaminate adjacent property.

(iii) General Minimization of Exposure to Lead Dust and Debris:

(a) Wet scraping of deteriorated painted surfaces.

(b) Thorough cleaning, including HEPA vacuuming and wet cleaning of designated work area, to remove any dust residue. 

(i) Lead in Housing.

(3)   Owner’s Duty to Correct

(i) The owner of any structures, equipment, exterior property, premises, dwellings, dwelling units, or parts thereof shall take action to prevent the occurrence of conditions conducive to lead poisoning and shall expeditiously correct an identified or presumed lead hazard using Lead Safe Work Practices, as approved by the Erie County Commissioner of Health.  These work methods are intended to limit the exposure of workers and occupants to lead dust and debris during correction and control of lead hazards and during regular maintenance, painting or renovation performed in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978.

(a) All correction and control of lead hazards and regular maintenance, painting or renovation performed in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978 must be performed by an individual certified by the EPA or who possesses other lead safe certification as approved by the Erie County Commissioner of Health.  

There are certain types of painted building components in pre-1978 housing that, when deteriorated or damaged, are particularly likely to produce dangerous lead dust. These components, known as “friction and impact surfaces,” frequently contribute to lead poisoning.

Examples of building components that may contain friction or impact surfaces include the following:

(a) Window systems;

(b)  Doors;

(c)  Stair treads and risers;

(d) Porches, decks, interior floors, and any other painted surfaces that are abraded, rubbed, or impacted. 

The Erie County Sanitary Code also requires the use of “Lead Safe Work Practices” when performing general maintenance on friction and impact surfaces in pre-1978 housing.

Also from Section 1.22: General Requirements Relating to Safe and Sanitary Property Maintenance:

(b) Windows, doors and hatchways.  Every window, exterior door and basement hatchway or similar devices, shall be kept rodent-proof and reasonably watertight and weather-tight, and shall be kept in sound working condition and good repair.  All exterior doors shall have properly functioning locking devices that shall be operable from the interior side of the door.  All deadbolt type locking mechanisms shall be of the thumb latch style or equivalent on the inside of the exterior door(s), a key operated style on both sides is not acceptable.

(1) Maintenance of friction and impact surfaces in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978. Whenever routine maintenance, painting, renovation, repair or replacement of friction and impact surfaces, including but not limited to certain window and door components, is performed in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978, lead safe work practices, as approved by the Erie County Commissioner of Health, shall be followed. These work methods are intended to limit the exposure of workers and occupants to lead dust and debris. 

(d) Safety. 

(1) Stairways, decks, porches and balconies.  Every stairway, deck, porch and balcony, and all appurtenances attached there to, shall be maintained structurally sound, in good repair, with proper anchorage and capable of supporting the imposed loads

(i) Handrails required.  Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each stairway with three or more risers at an approved height.

(ii) Guards required.  Porches, balconies or raised floor surfaces located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below shall have guards not less than 36 inches in height.  Open sides of stairs with a total rise of more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below or more than four risers shall have guards.

(iii) Maintenance of friction and impact surfaces in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978. Whenever routine maintenance, painting, renovation, repair or replacement of friction and impact surfaces, including but not limited to porch floors, stair treads and stair risers, is performed in housing constructed prior to January 1, 1978, lead safe work practices, as approved by the Erie County Commissioner of Health, shall be followed. These work methods are intended to limit the exposure of workers and occupants to lead dust and debris. 

Resources

Additional Resources 

Contact 

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
Environmental Health Division
503 Kensington Avenue (see map)
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-961-6800 
Fax: 716-961-6880
Email: leadsafe@erie.gov