Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens


Recognizing that lead poisoning permanently reduces a child’s ability to learn and is completely preventable, the City of Buffalo and early childhood funders in western New York commissioned a report “Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens” to evaluate comprehensive lead poisoning data and conduct community interviews.

The study was funded by the City of Buffalo, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. This assessment was advised by the WNY Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning and data support was provided by the Erie County Department of Health. The Partnership for Public Good also assisted with community engagement.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Erie County has one of the highest blood lead testing rates in New York State with 61% of children born in 2012 tested twice by age 36 months.
  • Lead poisoning rates in Erie County have plateaued in recent years.
  • The majority of children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels (EBLLs) live in City of Buffalo single family homes and doubles owned by over 1,200 different property owners.
  • More than 80% of the properties where children are lead poisoned are rental properties.
  • The report details more than a dozen recommendations about how to address this critical issue in our community.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Require owners of all rental housing to pass an interior inspection for deteriorated (e.g., peeling and flaking) paint every three years after an initial six year phase-in period for singles and doubles. The City will issue certificates of compliance which must be posted in rental units.
  • Require Certificates of Occupancy for all residential housing at the point of sale.
  • Increase the financial resources for lead remediation through an expanded menu of public and private grants, low-interest loans, and financing to ensure property owners have access to capital to make all properties lead safe.
  • New York State should grant school nurses across the state access to children’s blood lead test results in the New York State Immunization Information System  to allow students to be appropriately evaluated for beneficial educational services.

Focus Area: Young Children Impacted by Poverty

Category: Evaluation, Infographic, Report, Toolkit

Date Published: March 28, 2018