Housing-Based Injury Control and Prevention Program

Program Overview 

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) Housing-Based Injury Control and Prevention Program responds to service requests and complaints regarding housing issues that pose an immediate or sustained health or safety risk to occupants of a dwelling unit. ECDOH performs investigations to identify critical health and safety hazards, provides education and intervention materials to occupant families, notifies property owners of issues to be corrected, and if necessary, pursues enforcement of the Erie County Sanitary Code in Housing Court or Commissioner’s Hearings.

Critical health and safety risks include:

  • Improper venting
  • Sanitary sewer leaks
  • Lack of heat or other utilities
  • Blocked egress
  • Conditions conducive to lead poisoning

Important Information about Housing Related Hazards

  • Improper venting in a dwelling is a hazard because it can allow the carbon monoxide (CO) produced by burning fuel to build up in the home instead of venting safely to the outside. Carbon Monoxide is known as “The Invisible Killer".
  • 'Egress’ means the exits and escape route out of a dwelling in the event of a fire or other emergency. Blocked egress could trap a person in a building during a fire. Regularly practice E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home).
  • Download the free Ready Erie Preparedness App. Through this app you can receive notifications, locate emergency shelters, view up-to-date evacuation maps, create a personalized emergency preparedness plan & more. 
  • If you temporarily cannot stay in your home due to lack of heat, or other serious issue with your current housing situation, please call 211 WNY by dialing 211 on your phone or call 1-888-696-9211. 
  • Help with heating bills is available through Erie County Department of Social Services Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).  
  • Help with repairs and renovations may be available in your area. For more information see the Erie County Housing Resource Directory

Service Requests & Complaints

Related Programs

FAQs

I think I have mold in my house. Can the ECDOH test it and clean it up?

No. Unfortunately, due to the lack of regulations specific to mold at the federal, state and local level, the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is not able to enforce mold remediation or perform mold testing or assessments. 

Mold is part of the natural environment; and, therefore, mold is generally considered to be present everywhere both indoors and outdoors. However, molds are usually not a problem indoors unless mold spores land on a wet or damp object and begin overgrowing. Typically, mold will not overgrow in the absence of moisture.

Testing for, and documenting the presence of, mold is usually of little value especially since mold is generally expected to be found throughout our environment. How to interpret positive tests results remains unclear. 

Mold overgrowth can be prevented and controlled indoors by limiting excessive moisture. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold AND fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but do not fix the water problem, most likely, the mold problem will return. 

The New York State Department of Labor operates a certification program for mold remediation contractors. Information regarding this program can be found here

In limited circumstances, the ECDOH may have some authority to require that building owners eliminate conditions (e.g., leaking pipes) that could be causing mold overgrowth, but in many cases, moisture issues in buildings are caused by structural problems (e.g. leaking roof or gutters). Structural issues are handled by the local Building Inspector. 

For additional resources on mold testing, proper cleanup techniques and mold and moisture prevention please go to the EPA Mold Website and the CDC Mold Website

Additional Information:

Mold & Moisture

Ten Things You Should Know About Mold   

Mold Assessment and Remediation in New York State 

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The building I live in or work in is making me sick. Can the ECDOH test the building?

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) receives many inquiries regarding "testing" of environments. It is important to note that random testing for unknown substances causing unidentified or poorly defined ailments is generally neither helpful, sound public health practice, or even scientifically or logistically possible.

The word "testing" is often used by the public in a nonspecific way. However, when the word is used scientifically it can refer to numerous different procedures by many different kinds of laboratories to discover thousands and thousands of different agents. Categories of agents include biological, chemical, and radiological; and, within each of these categories there are many different subcategories of agents. For example, biological agents include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and molds. Each of these subcategories is further divided into individual agents (species) each of which may require a very different and very specific test or series of tests to detect. For some agents, there may not be any scientifically accepted tests.

The investigation of any link between the environment and human illness should begin with a clear medical diagnosis. Therefore, the ECDOH recommends that individuals concerned about symptoms, or other health complaints, should first see their health care provider for further evaluation, and if warranted, referral to a specialist. If a diagnosis can be made, AND if the condition has been shown scientifically to have a potential environmental cause, then focused testing of the environment MAY be of benefit. However, testing is rarely indicated and would need to be done by a third party since the ECDOH does not routinely test buildings

It is also important to note that an individual case of any given disease generally should not trigger an environmental investigation. A situation in which there are abnormally increased numbers of individuals with the same diagnoses who have a common link to an environment (e.g., co-workers) MAY warrant an environmental investigation. Although household members share a common environment, a common ailment could be related to genetics rather than the environment. Epidemiological evaluation and complex statistical analysis is often necessary to determine whether the number of individuals with the same diagnosis is abnormally increased, or just the expected incidence in the community (i.e., background incidence).

The ECDOH can only address and enforce conditions that are regulated by public health law. Building maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner; and, the role of the ECDOH in owner-occupied dwellings is very limited. There are home inspection companies that may offer "sick building" evaluations and may be able to provide consultation or testing. You may find these companies listed in the telephone book or in other sources. For more information about sick building syndrome and building related illnesses please go to EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/sbs.html.

I think I have bedbugs (cockroaches, other insects, spiders, other pests) in my home. Can the ECDOH come out and exterminate them?

The Erie County Department of Health does not make inspections to identify or exterminate any type of insects or other pests involved in an infestation. 

Information on common household infestations

Bed Bugs

Cockroaches

General Pest Control

If extermination is needed, occupants or property owners should hire a licensed professional exterminator, also known as a Pesticide Applicator, to identify the cause of an infestation and determine the best way to get rid of the problem.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation operates the certification program for Pesticide Applicators. Click here for information regarding this program and to search for licensed professionals near you.

Related ECDOH Programs

Erie County operates a Rodent Control Program for Erie County residents and property owners in 1, 2, 3 and 4 unit properties. The program provides inspection and extermination service for rodents only. 

I have bed bugs (cockroaches or another pest) in my apartment and my landlord says I’m responsible for exterminating. Is that true?

The answer to this question depends on how many dwelling units or apartments there are in the building where you live.

In a single family dwelling, the occupant is responsible for extermination of that dwelling.

In a multiple dwelling with two or more apartments, the owner is responsible for exterminating.
The owner is responsible for maintaining the building in good repair and sound condition and in a reasonably rat-proof and insect proof condition.

Erie County Sanitary Code
Responsibility of Owners and Occupants

1.14 Responsibility for extermination. Every occupant of a dwelling containing a single dwelling unit shall be responsible for the extermination of any insects, rodents or other pests therein or on the premises. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, whenever infestation is caused by failure of the owner to maintain a dwelling in a rat-proof or reasonable insect-proof condition, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner. Whenever infestation exists in two or more of the dwelling units in any dwelling, or in the shared or public parts of a dwelling containing two or more units, extermination thereof shall be the responsibility of the owner.

See the Erie County Sanitary Code for the responsibilities of owners and occupants.

The Erie County Department of Health does not make inspections to identify or exterminate any type of insects or other pests involved in an infestation. Click here for additional information about pest control.  

If extermination is needed, occupants or property owners should hire a licensed professional exterminator, also known as a Pesticide Applicator, to identify the cause of an infestation and determine the best way to get rid of the problem.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation operates the certification program for Pesticide Applicators. Click here for information regarding this program and to search for licensed professionals near you. 

Related ECDOH Programs

Erie County operates a Rodent Control Program for Erie County residents and property owners in 1, 2, 3 and 4 unit properties. The program provides inspection and extermination service for rodents only. 

Contact 

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
Environmental Health Division
503 Kensington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-961-6800 
Fax: 716-961-6880

Changed
07/29/2022 - 9:38 am