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Schneiderman announces funding to fight childhood lead poisoning in Buffalo


Mon, Feb 29th 2016 10:30 am

Nearly $350,000 in settlement funds will be used to identify at-risk children, promote lead testing, and remediate lead paint hazards in homes

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced he is investing an additional $346,825 in the Buffalo Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI Buffalo) to significantly increase the initiative's home lead hazard intervention and remediation efforts. The funds, secured via the settlement of a lead contamination lawsuit against Mattel and Fisher-Price, will help address the severe lead contamination and childhood lead poisoning problem that has long plagued Buffalo.

"As we have seen yet again with the recent lead contamination in the water supply of Flint, Michigan, investments must be made in lead intervention and remediation to prevent devastating health impacts, particularly for our children," Schneiderman said. "Ending children's exposure to lead in their homes and apartments is an environmental justice imperative. My office will continue to take every measure we can to stop exposure to this insidious poison that robs children of their full potential and future."

Lead contamination is a particularly significant challenge in Buffalo. Buffalo has the highest percentage of homes built before World War II of any large city in the nation. Because the housing stock is old, many homes pre-date the banning of lead paint.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead-based paint is the most widespread and dangerous high-dose source of lead exposure for young children.

Thousands of children in Erie County have already fallen victim to lead poisoning, with Buffalo as the problem's epicenter. In Buffalo, children are testing positive at more than triple the state average, and one-third of all lead poisoning cases reported in New York outside of New York City are located in areas of Buffalo.

The attorney general's office first awarded funding to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to create the GHHI Buffalo in 2010. The GHHI Buffalo has brought together more than 50 private and public organizations to create a coordinated funding stream capable of fixing the full range of health, safety and energy-efficiency problems of low-income owner-occupied housing through single, comprehensive interventions. To date, the initiative has addressed the critical needs and provided "whole home" rehabilitations for nearly 400 of Buffalo's neediest families at a cost of less than $10,000 per home.

"We are grateful for the attorney general's continued partnership in ensuring healthy home environments for families," said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. "We look forward to engaging new and existing partners in this next phase of work."

"The detrimental effects of lead poisoning are irreversible. That is why eliminating lead hazards in homes before children are poisoned is so important," said Dr. Melinda Cameron, medical director of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Resource Center at Women and Children's Hospital. "The new funds announced by Attorney General Schneiderman will be used to create home environments where children can grow up safe from the threat of lead exposure. Attorney General Schneiderman has been a strong supporter of children's environmental health, and this new commitment increases the resources available to Buffalo families."

"All Buffalonians, regardless of income or race, deserve to live in housing that doesn't poison their children," said Leslie A. Vishwanath, housing director at the Matt Urban Center and board member of Housing Opportunities Made Equal. "This funding will help right an environmental injustice that plagues many low-income residents in Buffalo."

"Whether it is the tragic episode in Flint or the ongoing lead poisoning in Buffalo, lead poisoning is a silent threat, which is too often forgotten or ignored by our elected leaders," said David Hahn-Baker, local environmental activist. "Those who care about Greater Buffalo kids praise AG Schneiderman for this initiative!"

The childhood lead poisoning prevention efforts funded by this investment will include lead hazard interventions such identifying at-risk children and promoting lead testing, as well as remediation activities such as the removal of lead paint and window replacement.

Schneiderman's office is working with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to identify and recruit additional funding for providing home lead interventions and remediation through the GHHI Buffalo.

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