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Home > Leadership > Mayor > News Room > Press Releases > Lead Hazard Control Program

Lead Hazard Control Program

MAYOR BROWN ANNOUNCES THE CITY OF BUFFALO LEAD HAZARD CONTROL PROGRAM

This multi-pronged initiative, to reduce exposure to lead-based paint hazards, will include lead-focused amendments to City’s Rental Registry Law, a Lead Education Awareness Program, and lead testing and remediation partnerships

May 4, 2016 – Mayor Byron W. Brown today unveiled a multi-pronged initiative: The City of Buffalo Lead Hazard Control Program – Legislate, Collaborate, Educate and Remediate. This aggressive initiative, to reduce Buffalo residents’ exposure to hazards from lead-based paint, includes key amendments to the City Charter, City Code, and the city’s Rental Registry Law requiring:

  • All landlords on the City’s Rental Registry must certify they are aware of their property’s lead levels and agree to follow Federal guidelines for renovation and repair
  • Property managers will be required to obtain Federal Remediation Lead Safe Certification
  • Landlords in the City of Buffalo will be required to disclose lead conditions to tenants.
  • Certificates of Occupancy will be denied, if there is a lead-based paint hazard present


As Mayor Brown’s proposed in his FY 2017 City Budget, unveiled April 29, the City’s Rental Registration Fee will be doubled. That increase will allow 25 percent of fees collected, a minimum of $250,000, annually, to be dedicated to lead issues. Additionally, $205,000 will be made available to start the program this year. The plan will provide funds to make 150 Buffalo units Lead-Safe each year.

“My administration has worked with the Common Council to develop the Buffalo Lead Hazard Control Program. It will be a comprehensive and collaborative effort to fight lead exposure in Buffalo.  Funding will be provided for remediation and education.  We will also take aggressive regulatory actions to hold landlords to a higher degree of accountability, while increasing their tenants understanding of lead dangers, and what they can do to live in a safe home,” said Mayor  Brown.

The collaborative effort to reduce lead exposure will include the City’s Department of Permits and Inspection Services, Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency and the City’s 311 system, which will have a dedicated ‘lead line’, working in partnership with the Erie County Department of Health, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, and Buffalo Public Schools.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz stated, “I commend Mayor Brown for taking a pro-active approach and working with Erie County to address the danger of lead poisoning. I know that by working together we can create a healthier city for the children of Buffalo.”

“I’m happy to work with Mayor Brown and my fellow councilmembers to implement the City of Buffalo Lead Hazard Control Program,” said Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen. “This program will strengthen our ability to respond to lead throughout the city, particularly in areas where children have shown elevated levels of lead.”
Lead is a fact of life nationally, as well as in Buffalo, because so many City homes and apartment buildings were built before 1978, when lead-based paint was banned. But the health hazards it presents, especially to young children, cannot be ignored. 

In 2015, 273 Buffalo children were documented as having extremely high lead levels, based on New York State Department of Health blood testing criteria. This initiative will make sure landlords are properly educated on lead-based paint dangers and abatement techniques, and establish new penalties for those ignoring lead problems at their properties.

“I am extremely pleased with Mayor Brown’s proposed Lead-Based Paint Reform Plan. The Mayor and his administration have developed a well-thought out plan to address the serious issue of lead poisoning in the City. As the Council representative for the 14213 zip code, which has one of the highest rates of lead in the City, I am in full support of this plan.  As a legislative body, it is our duty to ensure we are fully-funding vital initiatives like this plan to make sure we have the greatest impact we can on improving the safety and livelihood of our residents. I am committed to making the approval and implementation of the Lead-Based Paint Reform Plan a priority for the Common Council,” said Majority Leader and Niagara District Councilmember David Rivera.

 “I am grateful to Mayor Brown and County Executive Poloncarz for acting swiftly to bring the Lead Hazard Control program to our children and families.  As promised, we will make District school facilities available to the Erie County Department of Health to support testing and education initiatives on behalf of children of all ages from public, charter, non-public, and home schools.  We are also committed to collaborating on communication efforts, since over 18,000 families are members of our school district.” said Dr. Kriner Cash, Buffalo Schools Superintendent.

The health community has been dealing with issues of lead-based paint hazards for many years.

Dr. Katrina Korfmacher, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, a leading lead expert, is among those following the impact in Buffalo.

"Lead poisoning is a problem that none of us caused and all of us have a role in solving. It is very exciting that the City of Buffalo is taking a leadership role in bringing together the diverse resources, community stakeholders, government agencies and multiple approaches that are needed to protect the children of Buffalo from this "invisible monster" Dr. Korfmacher said.

"Exposure to lead is the number one environmental hazard threatening the health of children living in the City of Buffalo.  In children, lead affects the developing brain.  It is associated with lower IQ and poor school performance.  The effects of lead exposure are irreversible.  That is why it is so important to take a proactive stance in preventing lead poisoning, instead of only reacting to reduce the hazards on a case-by-case basis.  It is also very important that parents ensure that their children are tested for lead by their health care providers at one and two years of age, as well as anytime parents are concerned about potential lead exposure."  Melinda S. Cameron, MD, medical director of the Western New York Lead Poisoning Prevention Resource Center.

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a partner of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (CFGB), is focused daily on addressing local residential lead issue.

“The plan announced today by Mayor Brown is a game-changer. It not only promotes systems-wide policy change it also sets a new precedent for collaboration among government entities, schools, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and neighborhood groups,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO, of the CFGB. “Lead poisoning is 100% preventable. The Mayor’s plan inspires us all to do our part to ensure every child has a bright future.”

Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO of National Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, also lauded the Brown administration and Buffalo Common Council for their Lead Hazard Control Program.

“The Lead Poisoning problem has plagued this nation for far too long.  Hopefully Mayor Brown’s leadership will be a beacon for Mayors and communities across the country,” Ms. Norton said.

A critical weapon in the fight against lead-based paint hazards is to create a base of informed tenants, Mayor Brown noted.

“We will conduct a comprehensive communications campaign to educate Buffalo residents how to spot lead-based paint problems, the dangers of lead exposure, their rights as tenants and what steps to take to make sure their landlords clear the hazard. We will also launch an education campaign that includes: flyers distributed door-to-door and placed in user fee bills, robust information on the City webpage, social media and   in-person lead information sessions,” Mayor Brown said.

Lead education materials will be translated into several languages through the City’s Office of New Americans to reach our growing immigrant population.

Buffalo Common Council Members, especially those who represent the residents in the 14211, 14213 and 14215 zip codes – neighborhoods with the highest concentration of documented lead exposure, regularly hear from constituents seeking solutions.

Lovejoy District Councilmember Richard Fontana said, “The voices of the children of Buffalo are being heard within the budget process.  This lead testing and abatement program is what the City needs to keep families safe.”

“The lives of our citizens, particularly our children, are too important, necessitating that Mayor Brown and the Buffalo Common Council take this decisive action immediately,” said Fillmore District Councilmember David Franczyk.

University District Councilmember Rasheed N. C. Wyatt stated, “The lead concerns throughout our country should not only make each of us pay closer attention but take more prudent action to find a remedy and prevent its harmful effects on city residents. These testing kits, combined with the efforts of Erie County, should help immensely in protecting our citizens.”

“As government officials, we are commissioned to ensure that the voice of those who elected us in office reverberates through the legislation that we enact. I submit that those who are the least responsible for the condition of our society and planet are those who are most effected,” said Masten District Councilmember Ulysees O. Wingo, Sr.