Made possible by funding from NYS Homes & Community Renewal, Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. and the South Fillmore Block Club are sponsoring a free Lead-Safe Work Practices training this Saturday, June 9 from 8 AM to 4 PM. The training will provide attendees a certification in LSWP good for five years. For more information, click here.
Decorators all say one of the easiest ways to transform a room is with paint. While this decorating trick seems relatively simple, the prep work, if done improperly, can expose workers and residents to lead dust. Chipping and peeling lead based paint in homes built before 1978 also presents a hazard to residents. When children breathe or ingest lead dust they can become poisoned.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would no longer designate a specific blood lead level value in children as the 'level of concern' because there is no identified safe exposure level for lead in children. With the change, the CDC acknowledges the compelling evidence that even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to have a detrimental effect on IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The new strategy emphasizes preventing lead exposure rather than responding after the exposure has taken place.
While eliminating the term 'level of concern', federal experts now recommend intervention for all children whose blood lead levels are in the top 2.5 percent for children 1-5 years old. Currently, that reference value is 5 micrograms/deciliter.
The recommendations by the CDC are in line with a comprehensive whole-house solutions strategy based on the needs of children and families.
The rate of new childhood lead poisoning cases in Erie County is more than twice the statewide rate. This is due in part to the area’s stockpile of aging and deteriorating housing built before lead-based paint was banned.
The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and its partners, who have been involved with lead poisoning prevention for years, have been working tirelessly since 2009 through the Wipe Out Lead campaign and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) to change Western New York's lead poisoning situation.
GHHI aligns and coordinates public and private funding sources and programs for weatherization, lead hazard control, asthma control, and other home health and safety interventions in low income homes in Buffalo. This approach also provides economic benefit to families in the form of cost savings, develops career pathways to higher-paying ‘green’ jobs, and produces more stable neighborhoods by increasing the quality of housing stock.
As of January 2012, the foundation’s efforts around lead poisoning prevention already made a difference, resulting in 256 homes receiving lead-safe interventions, 800 at-risk children tested for lead and 600 individuals trained in lead-safe work practices in Western New York. These numbers are significant, but there is still more to do and the work hinges on funding.
Despite being able to advocate broadly about lead poisoning with its redefinition, the CDC does not have the funds to implement all of its advisory board’s suggestions. Congress passed a final budget in December cutting the CDC's Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program from $29 million in 2011, to just $2 million in 2012.
Given the CDC's acknowledgement that any amount of lead exposure is hazardous for children, and with this area's aging and deteriorating housing placing its children in danger, parents should take action to protect their children from lead poisoning. Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns and request a blood lead test for any child under age 6 years. To find out more, click here.