Homes built before 1978 are likely to contain lead paint; Health Department announces this new resource during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week – acknowledged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and health departments across the country – runs from Oct. 24-29, 2022. This week, the Erie County Department of Health is introducing a new property records database.
This resource for property owners and renters shows the year in which a residence was built. Though lead paints were phased out during the 1960s and 1970s, these paints were used for decades in home construction and repair. Homeowners and renters should assume that any home built before 1978 could contain lead paint. Deteriorated paint is a potential lead hazard. Exposure to lead paint dust and paint chips are a major cause of lead poisoning for young children. If a search results in a home or residence built before 1978, lead poisoning prevention information is displayed.
This collaborative project between ECDOH and Erie County’s Real Property Tax Services takes publicly available information about the year a home was built, and presents it alongside lead poisoning prevention resources.
“Our department heard the feedback from the public and media calling for a way to see lead inspection records for any property,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Inspection reports provide information about a single point in time, and they do not give the full picture of the potential lead contamination at a property or in a community. Also, we would not want someone to search for an inspection report, find that no inspections have been done, and assume that their home is lead- and hazard-free.”
“Instead, working with the Department of Real Property Tax Services, we developed this database for property owners and residents,” Burstein continued. “If a result is from a pre-1978 home, resources for lead poisoning prevention are immediately displayed. We hope all Erie County residents and landlords use it to confirm when their home was built, and alert themselves to potential lead hazards that exist in or outside their property.”
Also new from ECDOH, the lead safe work practices training for homeowners schedule for fall 2022 and winter 2023 has been published. This free, six-hour training includes classroom learning and hands-on activities for people who:
√ Live in a rental unit maintained by a landlord or property manager
√ Intend to have work done by a contractor
√ Want to be able to or are required to do lead safe work on their own home
Call 716-961-6800 to register for these trainings, or visit www.erie.gov/lead.
Lead poisoning and its harmful effects are largely preventable with increased testing and education – a point emphasized by ECDOH for Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Approximately $4.9 million in local, state and federal funding supported lead poisoning prevention and lead hazard control in Erie County in 2022.
There is no safe blood lead level for children. Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development, damaging the brain and nervous system. Lead poisoning can cause learning delays, behavioral problems and other health conditions
In New York state, children should be tested for elevated blood lead levels at age 1 and age 2. This is done with a simple finger-stick prick. Results are provided to the pediatrician or family physician, and blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL and higher are reported to the local health department for action. ECDOH has public health nurses and public health sanitarians who work exclusively on lead poisoning cases.
Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or ingesting paint chips or soil that contain lead.
Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden families experiencing poverty; families in older, unstable or inadequate housing; and, children of some racial and ethnic groups, such as non-Hispanic African-Americans.
Pregnant women, refugees and children who were adopted from outside the U.S. are also at risk for higher lead exposure. Pregnant women should consider asking about lead testing during prenatal care visits. It is particularly important for workers using lead to prevent take-home exposure to young children and pregnant women. Workers in certain industries, and their families, may be exposed to lead from the workplace. Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint.
For more information on how to protect your family, contact LEADSAFE Erie County at 716-961-6800 or email [email protected]. You can also visit the ECDOH lead poisoning prevention website, New York State Department of Health’s childhood lead poisoning prevention website or the EPA website, or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
√ Erie County Department of Health, lead poisoning prevention: www.erie.gov/lead
√ New searchable database of homes built before 1978: www.erie.gov/leadsearch