The Brown Administration's proposed lead paint initiative is now in the hands of the Common Council, which is being asked to approve measures that place more onus on landlords and give more responsibility to city building inspectors to help combat lead hazards in Buffalo.
A series of City Charter amendments, expected to be voted upon Tuesday by the Council, deals primarily with buildings constructed before 1978, which is when lead paint was banned.
The measures are expected to be approved, and would take effect immediately.
Included in the amendments are provisions that:
- Require property managers to show proof of lead inspections, as well as proof that any hazards have been remedied.
- Require property owners to disclose any lead that could exist in their buildings.
- Prohibit issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy permits to rental property with known lead hazards.
- Require property owners to consent to lead hazard inspection on all rental units built before 1978. If hazards are found, the property owner must submit proof the hazard has been removed.
- Allows the city to increase fines for interior and exterior lead hazard violations.
- Require lead paint education, in some instances, for property owners.
Council President Darius G. Pridgen said the measures are a recognition that government actions can help address lead poisoning.
"This amendment is very important," Pridgen said, "not only for the health of the residents of Buffalo, but especially when you look around the country and see municipalities all but ignored issues of lead poisoning."
Erie County is currently the primary lead-abatement agency for Buffalo and other towns and cities in Erie County, and the new Buffalo laws will not change that.
But Mayor Byron W. Brown last May promised the city would to do more to address lead paint hazards since much of the county's lead paint problem is in Buffalo.
In February, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, released data showing that children in Western New York ages 5 and under suffer from the highest rate of lead poisoning in upstate New York. The data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Erie County with a 14 percent rate of lead poisoning, compared with 8.6 percent in Monroe County. Many of the highest rates in Western New York are in some of Buffalo's East Side neighborhoods, particularly the 14211, 14213 and 14215 zip codes.
While not all houses are suspected of containing lead paint, Buffalo has the highest percentage of homes built before World War II of any large city in the nation, according to county officials.
Chipped paint and dust from lead paint are considered the leading pathways for exposure in children. Lead exposure can result in impaired brain development, neurological problems and other ailments.