Skip to main content

lead poisoning

GO Health offers lead mitigation program for property owners

By Press Release

Press Release:

Lead is a metal that is toxic to our bodies. Young children under 6 years old are most at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are rapidly developing. A child with lead poisoning can experience learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty paying attention, organ damage, and anemia. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

“Lead poisoning is preventable,” stated Gabrielle Lanich, Lead Program Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “It is important to stop children from coming in contact with lead hazards before poisoning occurs.” 

The Genesee County Health Department has expanded its Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Grant, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to include Livingston and Wyoming Counties. The grant now includes Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties.

The Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (HUD) Grant addresses lead-based paint hazards, as well as certain health concerns, in homes and apartments in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) Counties. In order to be eligible for these funds, homeowners and property owners must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Tenants or homeowners who are income eligible (limited funds for vacant units, call for more information)
  • The building was built prior to 1978 
  • At least one child under the age of 6 living in the home or visiting 8 or more hours a week, or a pregnant female
  • Lead-based paint hazards in the home
  • Current on tax and mortgage payments
  • Other requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis

Rental property owners are also required to match 10% of the total project costs. For example, a rental property owner would be required to pay $2,000 for a $20,000 project.

Rental properties must have 4 units or less. All recipients are required to maintain ownership of the residence for 5 years after the project is completed. Applications can be obtained by contacting our lead program staff or found on the GO Health website. 

Possible contracted work may include:

  • Painting
  • Window replacement
  • Entry door replacement
  • Porch repair or replacement
  • Bare soil treatment/landscaping
  • Other general repairs

All work is completed by pre-approved local contractors trained and EPA-certified in lead-safe work practices. If you would like to be added to our list of contractors, please contact the Genesee County Health Department.

Our GLOW Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) team collaborates with HUD to offer education on preventing lead poisoning and how to renovate safely. If you have any lead-related questions, contact the GLOW CLPPP team. 

For more information, help determining eligibility, or to be added to our list of contractors, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 or Health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us. You can also visit GOHealthNY.org for an application.

GO health gives reminder about removing lead-based paint

By Press Release

Press Release:

With the warmer weather here, more home renovation projects are starting. If you have a home built before 1978, it is important to make sure renovations are done safely. 

Homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead-based paint that can be disturbed when renovating. Renovations can put lead dust into the air as well as into the heating and cooling systems of homes with lead-based paint.

Children (and adults) exposed to this lead dust are at risk of lead poisoning. There is no safe level of lead to have in the body. The effects of lead poisoning are permanent and can affect a child into adulthood. 

“Lead poisoning can affect anyone, but is especially dangerous for infants and small children,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). 

“Childhood lead poisoning can harm the brain and nervous system leading to learning challenges, lower IQ, difficulty in paying attention/hyperactivity, kidney damage, and very high levels can be fatal. Lead poisoning can also be dangerous for pregnant women because lead can pass to the baby during pregnancy.”

While thinking about renovation plans for this summer, consider using a lead-safe certified contractor if you live in a home built before 1978. If planning to do the work yourself, here are some simple steps you can take to keep both you and your family safe.

  1. Set up safely in a way that should prevent dust from escaping the work area and keep anyone not working on the project from entering. This can include removing all furniture, rugs, curtains, and other household items, tightly wrapping items that cannot be removed with plastic sheeting, covering floors with plastic sheeting, closing and sealing all doors, turning off forced-air heating and
    air conditioning systems, and covering vents with sheeting. All sheeting should be taped in place to ensure it is secure.
  2. Protect yourself. Wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when working, wash your hands and face every time you stop working, wash your work clothes separately from the rest of your family’s laundry, and do not eat, drink, or smoke in your work area. Dust and debris can contaminate food or other items and cause you to ingest dangerous lead dust.
  3. Minimize Dust. Many renovation tasks (drilling, cutting, opening walls, etc.) create dust that may contain lead. Using proper tools and simple practices can help limit and control dust. 
  4. Clean your work area at the end of every day. This helps minimize dust and protects you and your family. Easy ways to keep your work area clean include; putting trash in heavy-duty bags as you work, vacuuming with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) cleaner frequently, cleaning tools daily, disposing of or cleaning PPE, and keeping non-workers out of the work area.
  5. Control Waste. Collect all waste and secure it tightly with duct tape or a double bag to prevent lead dust or debris from escaping before disposal.
  6. Clean again. When your renovations are complete and before using the room again, use wet-cleaning methods in order to control the dust and prevent the dust from going back into the air. Make sure to mop uncarpeted floors thoroughly, clean walls with a HEPA vacuum or damp cloth, thoroughly vacuum all remaining surfaces and objects with a HEPA vacuum, and then wipe down all surfaces with wet cloths until the cloths are clean.

For any questions and more information on GO Health Lead Programs, contact the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580 ext. 5555 or Health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us. You can also visit the GO Health website at www.GOHealthNY.org.

Health Department: Healthy diet can reduce lead in bloodstream, decreasing risk of poisoning

By Press Release

Press release:

Lead is a metal that is toxic to our bodies. It has been found in many products including lead-based paint, plumbing, leaded gasoline, toys, ceramics, and more. No amount of lead in our bodies is safe. Young children under 6 years old are most at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are rapidly developing. A child with lead poisoning can experience learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty paying attention, organ damage, and anemia. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

“The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible, but there are ways to decrease lead in our blood,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Eating food high in vitamin C, iron, and calcium can help reduce lead being absorbed from the digestive system into the bloodstream.”

Vitamin C absorbs iron and can remove lead from the body. Lack of iron has been associated with higher blood lead levels; however, eating enough iron-rich foods will help reduce lead absorption. Lastly, calcium helps to build and maintain strong bones. Eating enough calcium will reduce the amount of lead being stored in bones.

You can include many foods with vitamin C, iron or calcium in your diet.  

Foods containing vitamin C include fruits and vegetables such as:

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Raw Spinach
  • Melon
  • Peppers

Foods containing iron include types of meats, seafood, beans, fruits, and vegetables such as:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Spinach
  • Red kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Enriched and fortified breads and cereals

Foods containing calcium include dairy products and some seafood such as:

  • Milk
  • Cheese and yogurt
  • Dark leafy green vegetables such as collard greens and kale
  • Pinto beans and lentils
  • Canned salmon and sardines
  • Calcium-fortified beverages (juices, almond milk)

For any questions and more information on Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) Lead Program, contact the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580 ext.5555 or Health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us. You can also visit the GO Health website at www.GOHealthNY.org.

Lead poisoning is dangerous, and the risk goes up in the spring

By Press Release

Press release:

Lead is a heavy metal that is toxic to our bodies and there is no safe level of lead to have in our blood. Lead can be found in homes built before 1978 (before lead in paint was banned), gasoline, water pipes, toys, ceramics, jewelry, pottery, and more.

The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible and can affect a child into adulthood. “Lead poisoning can affect anyone, but it is especially dangerous for infants and small children because their bodies are rapidly developing,” stated Paul Pettit, Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). Childhood lead poisoning can damage the brain and nervous system leading to learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty in paying attention, hyperactivity, kidney damage, and, at very high levels, it can be fatal. Lead poisoning can also be dangerous for pregnant women because lead can pass to the baby during pregnancy. 

Childhood lead poisoning is a concern throughout the year, but cases of lead poisoning increase during the spring and summer months because children spend more time outdoors, on the porch or in the yard. Homes built before 1978 may have chipping and peeling lead paint on the porch or on siding, which could be more deteriorated than other parts of the house due to the effects of weather. Children playing on the porch can unknowingly pick up lead paint chips and dust on their hands and toys and then place hands or toys into their mouths.

Lead dust can also be found in the soil outside where children are playing. Strong winds can blow lead dust from nearby factories or from the chipped paint off houses and then settle into your yard. Although leaded gasoline was phased out in the 1970s, lead may still be in the soil after it was released into the air from car exhausts and then settled into the ground nearby.

Lastly, many home improvements begin in the spring and summer. Renovations to areas of the home containing lead-based paint can put lead dust into the air, both inside and outside of the area being worked on. Lead dust can also collect on windowsills and in window wells. On warm days when the window is open, lead dust in these areas can blow into the house.

“Lead poisoning in children is completely preventable,” stated Pettit. “You can follow these steps to protect yourself and your family from the effects of lead exposure.”

  • Talk to your doctor about a simple blood lead test. New York State requires that health care providers test children for lead at ages 1 and 2 and whenever there is a risk of lead exposure.
  • Wash children’s hands before eating and naps or bedtime.
  • Wash children’s toys regularly.
  • Have children play in a sandbox, rather than on the ground.
  • Clean floors with a wet mop and cleaning solution.
  • Wet-wipe dusty areas such as windowsills, window wells, countertops, and furniture.
  • Keep your home free of chipping or peeling paint and renovate safely.
  • Mist surfaces with water before scraping or sanding to prevent creating dust.
  • Have your children eat a balanced diet rich with iron, vitamin C and calcium.

For more information on GO Health’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs, visit GOHealthNY.org. You can also contact your respective health department:

Grant funds to get rid of lead paint in homes expanded to all local municipalities

By Press Release

Press release:

In January of 2019, the Genesee County Health Department received a $1.3 million federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address lead-based paint hazards in residential buildings within the counties of Genesee and Orleans.

Of this $1.3 million total, HUD has directed that $1 million be used specifically for lead-based paint hazard-reduction activities, while $300,000 is to be directed to other health-related home repairs, maintenance and upgrades.

“The funds were initially earmarked strictly for use in the City of Batavia and the Village of Albion,” said Darren Brodie, lead coordinator for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

“Fortunately, in December of 2020, HUD approved an expansion of the 'Genesee-Orleans Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program' to include qualified properties throughout all municipalities in both counties."

Eligible homeowners and landlords with eligible tenants may apply to receive these funds.

Landlords are required to match 10 percent of the total project costs. For example, a landlord would be required to pay $500 toward a $5,000 project, or $2,000 toward a $20,000 project.

Buildings containing more than one unit are accepted, even if all units are not eligible based on the requirements described below.

No match is required for owner-occupied dwellings.

All recipients of these grant funds are required to maintain ownership of the residence for 5 years following project completion.

Projects are bid on and completed by a preapproved list of local contractors, all verified as properly trained and EPA-certified in lead-safe work practices. Contractors who wish to be on our list should contact this office.

Applications can be obtained by contacting lead program staff at the Genesee County Health Department.

Program staff can quickly determine your initial eligibility and will help to guide you through the application process, which requires document gathering and filling out forms by the owners and tenants.

In order to be eligible to receive these funds you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Low-income tenants or homeowners (call for details regarding vacant units);
  • Dwelling was built prior to 1978;
  • Dwelling contains lead-based paint;
  • Dwelling houses a family with at least one child under the age of 6 living there or visiting frequently, or an expectant mother.

If you need help determining if your family or home fits the criteria, contact lead program staff.

For additional information contact the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Be Aware: It's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

By Press Release

Public Health Column from the county health department:

Oct. 25th – 31st is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a time when families, community organizations, and local governments join efforts in the fight against lead poisoning in their communities.

Lead poisoning in children can lead to hyperactivity, reduced cognitive (thinking) ability, and other permanent, negative health effects. One of the goals of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) is to spread awareness of this public health issue and to increase lead poisoning prevention throughout our communities.

Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, declares that “Lead poisoning can be prevented! The key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. Take time this week to learn about ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects.”

This year, the Center for Disease Control has compiled three themes for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week:

  • (1.) Get the facts: Most childhood lead poisoning occurs when children swallow or inhale dust containing lead, often from lead-based paint which was commonly used throughout homes until 1978. Children ingest (eat) lead when they put their hands or other dust-covered objects, such as toys, in their mouth, eat paint chips or soil contaminated with lead, and inhale lead dust, particularly during home renovations or other paint disturbances.
  • (2.) Get your home evaluated: Although the use of lead was banned from products such as paint since 1978, many homes in our communities still have remnants of old lead paint in them. Old, chipping paint, particularly around window sills, door frames, banisters and porches pose a serious health risk, especially in young children who tend to spend most of their time crawling or playing on the floor.
  • (3.) Get your child tested: A blood test is the only way to discover if your child has been exposed to lead resulting in a detectable blood lead level. New York State requires that health care providers test all children for lead at age 1 and again at age 2. Health care providers are required to ask parents/guardians about theirchild’s exposure to potential lead hazards up until 6 years old. If there is any suspected exposure in that time frame, another blood lead test may need to be administered.

In New York State, the goal is to have 80 percent of children tested for lead at these ages. Local data shows that the screening rates among children in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties fell below the State goal in 2019. Lead testing and early detection can prevent long-term health problems for your child and their future. Make sure to talk to yourchild’s doctor about lead screening at their next appointment!

Funding may be available to help make your home lead safe. In January 2020, the Genesee County Health Department (on behalf of GO Health) received a $1.3M federal HUD grant to address lead-based paint hazards in homes and rentals throughout the City of Batavia and the Village of Albion, including installation of replacement windows, paint, siding, and other home repairs. Specifically, the grant targets low-income households with children under the age of 6; this includes homeowners and landlords with low-income tenants.

Recently, Genesee County was able to revise the grant target area to include all areas within Genesee and Orleans Counties, making potential grant funding available to qualified applicants throughout both counties.

“Lead hazards exist in older homes all over Genesee and Orleans Counties. We want every eligible resident to have a chance to apply for these funds, and we’re prepared to help them through the process,” said Darren Brodie, Lead Program coordinator for Genesee and Orleans counties.

For those who don’t know whether they qualify as low-income, as defined by HUD, the information can be found online or by contacting the Health Department directly. This target area expansion is expected to go into effect next month, and the Health Department is currently accepting applications countywide for both Genesee and Orleans in anticipation of the expansion.

For more information on the GO Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, or for general information on lead hazards and the negative effects of lead poisoning, call the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5507, or email.

Lead hazards in the home won’t go away on their own. Lead poisoning prevention starts with YOU!

For more information contact the Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Public Health Column: Grant funds available to qualified residents to rid homes of lead paint

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee & Orleans health department:

Live in or own a home or rental unit built before 1978? Do young children living in the home? Worried about lead paint?

Most homes built before 1978 contain old lead paint. Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies.

If paint peels, cracks, or is worn down, the chips and dust from the old lead paint can spread onto floors, windowsills, and all around your home.

Young children who lick, swallow, or breathe in dust from old lead paint can develop lead poisoning.

Although lead paint is the most common form of exposure, lead can also be found in water, soil, and in some products used in and around the home, such as imported china or inexpensive jewelry.

“Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health and cause damaging health effects,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties.

“Lead has the ability to damage to the brain and nervous system, slow growth and development, cause learning and behavior problems, and effect hearing and speech. Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.”

The Genesee–Orleans Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program aims to identify lead hazards within the home and provide resources where they are needed most. This is a federally funded grant program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help qualified residents in the City of Batavia and the Village of Albionremove lead from their home for little to no cost.

Certified and trained workers may replace windows, doors, fresh paint, trim, siding, flooring, and more. Eligible properties must also be built prior to 1978, have a child under the age of 6 living in or frequently visiting the home (this includes pregnant women) or have a child with elevated blood lead levels, and be found to have lead-based paint hazards.

Below are the maximum household income limits to qualify:

Family Size

Batavia

        Albion

1

$25,800

        $26,750

2

$29,500

        $30,600

3

$33,200

        $34,400

4

$36,850

        $38,200

5

$39,800

        $41,300

6

$42,750

        $44,350

(Income limits subject to change annually.)

To complete an application, please call the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555. After eligibility approval, a risk assessment of your home will be conducted to identify potential lead hazards and how they can be fixed. A certified contractor with complete the work and follow up testing will be completed to make sure your home meets the safety standards.

Property owners can also receive help through the Genesee–Orleans Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program. If your rental property has no more than four apartments and was built before 1978, you may be eligible for help in testing and correcting lead hazards.

Landlords renting to families within the City of Batavia or the Village of Albionwithin the income limits listed above may be eligible. Priority will be given to homes where children under the age of 6 live, as well as to those that house children who have elevated blood-lead levels, or a pregnant female.

Participating owners must also agree to maintain rents at affordable levels (please see table below). Owners are required to contribute 10 percent of the project cost. If necessary, the program can temporarily relocate tenants while the work is being performed.

Unit Size

Batavia

    Albion

1 Bedroom

$680

    $775

2 Bedroom

$820

    $972

3 Bedroom

$1,120

    $1,211

4 Bedroom

$1,221

    $1,317

      (Monthly rent must include utilities.)
  (Rent levels subject to change annually.)

For more information on the Genesee–Orleans Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Grant Program, please email: health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us, or call (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555.

*Properties must be located in one of the following census tracts: 9507, 9508, 9510, and 0407.
Check your tract code at: https://geomap.ffiec.gov/FFIECGeocMap/GeocodeMap1.aspx

Health department seeks contractors qualified to do lead hazard abatement work

By Billie Owens

From Brenden A. Bedard, MPH, deputy Public Health director:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Department is accepting applications from contractors to be included on a list of bidders for the Genesee-Orleans Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program (the Program).

The Program is grant-funded and is concentrating on reducing lead-based paint hazards at properties in the City of Batavia and Village of Albion.

However, properties must be located in one of the following census tracts: 36037950700, 36037950800, 36037951000, and 36073040700. Check your census tract here.

Contractors wishing to be included on the list are required to complete a Contractor Application.

There is no deadline for application submittal at this time. However, only those firms which appear on the Program’s list of preapproved contractors, having submitted a completed application package and been successfully preapproved, will receive bid packages.

Contractors are required to be EPA Lead Abatement certified. Training can be arranged and paid for with Program funds for firms/workers not currently certified.

Applications and information on the Program can be obtained by calling the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555, or by emailing health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us.

NYS Department of Health grant targets lead service lines on Swan, Hutchins, Otis streets

By Mike Pettinella

The City of Batavia has tapped into a New York State program designed to help municipalities “get the lead out.”

Batavia City Council members, at their Conference Meeting via Zoom tonight, are expected to hear from Public Works Director Matt Worth about a $554,112 grant the City has received from the NYS Department of Health’s Lead Service Line Replacement Plan.

Worth said he and his staff have developed a work plan that is designed to replace 75 lead service lines on Swan, Hutchins and Otis streets on the City’s Southside.

“We suspect that 20 to 30 percent of our residential services may still be lead -- from the water main to the curb shut-off,” Worth said. “We have never observed it from the curb shut-off into the house.”

He said that City crews will be conducting vacuum excavations this summer in anticipation of construction starting as early as this fall and no later than next spring. The City awarded the engineering contract to GHD of Buffalo.

Worth said about $500,000 will be available after subtracting engineering costs.

“We’ll try to preserve as much as we can because every dollar we save on that side is maybe one more service we can do,” Worth said. “The vacuum excavation on the front end is being done all out of City costs – we’re not trying to use the grant money – so we can preserve as much of that grant money as possible to do as many services as we can.”

Lead was commonly used in the 1940s and ‘50s, Worth said, before giving way to galvanized pipe, copper, plastic and lead-free brass.

“Nothing that we use now contains any lead in it in the water industry,” he advised.

Worth said lead isn’t a significant health issue in water systems because the “water system creates a coating on the inside of the lead service, so the water does not come into contact with the lead. So, we don’t typically see concentrations of lead in people’s water when we test it.”

He said the City’s treated water is a little higher on the pH scale, and that tends to make it less corrosive.

“If you have water that is on the lower side of the pH scale, it can be more acidic and corrosive, and that’s where you will have a bigger issue with lead coming into people’s homes through the water,” he explained.

The NYS Lead Service Line Replacement Plan identifies grant recipients based on criteria included in the state’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.

According to the DOH website, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that drinking water contaminated with lead can contribute to 20 percent or more of a person’s total exposure to lead, and infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 percent to 60 percent of their total exposure to lead from drinking water.

Funds from the grant can cover engineering fees (planning, design and construction), legal fees, municipal administration fees, construction (materials, equipment, workforce) and site/property restoration.

Health Department waiting on guidelines for $1.3 million lead hazard reduction program

By Howard B. Owens

County health officials are still waiting on details from the federal government on a $1.3 million grant awarded to Genesee County and Orleans County for lead-hazard abatement and reduction in older homes.

At a meeting of the Human Services Committee last week, Paul Pettit, director of the health departments in both counties, said the first he learned that the counties had received the grant was by reading about it in The Batavian.

Since then, he's received a phone call confirming the grant but formal guidelines have not yet been delivered to his office.

"This is a significant amount of funding to come into Genesee County and to Orleans County and it would really help us to help those who don't have the means and the funds potentially to fix the problem," Pettit said in an interview last week.

Pettit's office applied for the grant over the summer.

The grant will enable the health departments to identify housing stock with potential lead hazards and make available grant money to the property owners to remediate the hazard.

"This funding is very important because what it does is, it allows, number one, a potential partnership with the homeowners or rental landlords to be able to fix a problem before a child gets poisoned and have funding available to remediate those homes prior to the poisoning occurring," Pettit said. "So when you look at it from a primary prevention standpoint, that's what we want to do. We want to try to prevent a child from getting poisoned in the first place."

The grants will be available to both homeowners and landlords of residences built prior to 1978 in three of the four census tracks in the City of Batavia and one census track in Albion.

Until the guidelines are in place, Pettit said it's not possible to provide details on how properties will be identified, inspected and what the criteria will be for providing assistance to property owners.

"We're gonna have to stand this program up fairly quickly when we get the formal announcement of the funding," Pettit said.

Health department staff has recently been through training for lead risk-assessment certification, Pettit told the Human Services Committee.

He also told the committee there is legislation pending in Albany that would require landlords with housing built prior to 1978 to receive annual lead-safe certification for their units, unless they made the property lead free, which would mean doing likes like removing trim, replacing windows, installing siding on the outside of the building.

"We do not want to see any child poisoned from lead exposure," Pettit said. "It can lead to developmental delays and other health impacts that could affect them over their entire lives. It's very important to identify and find these hazards early and then protect the children so they're not getting lead poisoning."

Public Health Column: Stepping up efforts to reduce childhood lead poisoning

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee County Health Department:

Often times, you are poisoned by lead you can’t even see! According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), children under 6 years old are more likely to be poisoned with lead than any other age group.

Lead is a metal that is harmful to both children and adults when it enters the body.

Most often, children are poisoned from breathing in or swallowing dust from old lead paint that gets on floors and windowsills, hands and toys.

Only a small amount of lead is needed to harm a child’s growth, behavior and ability to learn.

Most children poisoned by lead do not look or feel sick, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

New York State (NYS) law requires that every child must be tested for lead at the age one and again at the age two. Providers should also be assessing a child for risks of lead exposure regularly through age 6.

NYS has both the nation’s greatest number (3.3 million) and the highest percentage (43.1 percent) of housing stock built before 1950. Houses of this age are much more likely to contain lead paint, the leading cause of childhood lead poisoning.

Governor Cuomo’s 2019 budget is responding to this public health threat by lowering the acceptable blood lead level from 15 micrograms per deciliter of blood (µg/dl) to 5 µg/dl.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took that step in 2012 and has since been enacted in several states, including, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont. These states made their decision to move to the lower CDC guidelines based on the evidence that supports early intervention as the primary way to prevent the serious health effects suffered by victims of lead poisoning.

“Effective Oct. 1st, a child whose blood lead level is 5 µg/dl or more will be contacted by their local health department who will help families identify sources of lead and create plans to remove it by conducting home inspections,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director.

“Lowering the blood lead action level will increase home inspections greatly. The Genesee and Orleans County health departments are prepared for this change and have hired a lead coordinator to be dedicated to this workload for both counties.”

If a child's blood lead level is 5µg/dl or more, the health department nurse will report to Environmental Department. There will be an inspection done at the house by the Environmental Department from the local health department to check for lead exposure, and an educational prevention approach by the nurse from the local health department will be done with the family to decrease the lead level in the child’s bloodstream.

There are many sources of exposure according to the NYSOH. Subscribe to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to learn about consumer products recalled for lead violations.

Sources of Lead

  • Paint (older homes, old toys, furniture, crafts)
  • Air / Dust
  • Soil
  • Water (leaching of lead solder on plumbing)
  • Folk medicines and cosmetics
  • Children’s jewelry and toys
  • Workplace and hobbies
  • Lead-glazed ceramics; china; leaded crystal; and pewter
  • Imported candies or foods
  • Firearms with lead bullets
  • Foreign made mini-blinds
  • Car batteries and radiators

Lead can harm a young child’s growth, ability to learn and may be linked with tooth decay/cavities, hearing loss, behavior problems, even to the point that Early Intervention services are needed.

Early Intervention is the term used to describe services and support that are available to babies and young children and their families with developmental delay and disabilities.

Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy. Although lead poisoning is preventable, it continues to be a major cause of the problem among children.

For more information about lead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Early Intervention Services visit:

For information about Health Department services contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Senators announce $1.3 million in HUD funds for lead-based paint removal in Genesee County homes

By Billie Owens

Information from a press release:

U.S. senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today (Sept. 21) announced $1.3 million for Genesee County under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.

The senators explained that the funding will allow Genesee County to continue addressing and removing lead-based paint hazards in homes, a problem it has grappled with for years.

The purpose of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program is to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately owned housing for rental or owner-occupants. These grants are used to assist municipalities in carrying out lead hazard-control activities.

Schumer explained that following his relentless advocacy for Genesee County, HUD Secretary Ben Carson called him directly Friday afternoon to confirm the funding.

“During my call with Secretary Carson, I made it clear that even 40 years after the federal government banned the use of lead paint, children in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region still continue to suffer the insidious consequences of toxic lead," Schumer said. "I’m pleased to announce that he agreed with me, and committed to sending Genesee County $1.3 million to remove lead hazards from communities.

"I’ve long fought tooth and nail for federal funding and programs that work to remove lead in area homes, because lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs too many children across the region of their futures. I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce today’s fantastic news, which will be a major boon for public health."

"No child in the Finger Lakes Region should be forced to live in a home with dangerous lead," Gillibrand said. "This funding is a critical investment to start remediation and help keep some of our most vulnerable families safe. I will continue fighting so that our communities have the federal support they need to remove lead from their homes."

Public Health Column: Most elevated lead levels in adults comes from the workplace

By Billie Owens

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Do you know that 80 percent of elevated lead levels in adults come from workplace exposures? Adults who do work in construction, auto repairs, paint, weld steel, or even reconstruct bridges have high chances of being exposed to lead.

Exposure can also occur during renovation or remodeling activities in homes built before 1978 when personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves aren’t used. Adults are typically exposed to lead when it is ingested through food, water, cigarettes, contaminated hands, or by inhaling lead fumes or dust.

People with these jobs also risk bringing home dust with lead on their work clothes, skin or equipment. It’s referred to as “take-home lead” and can expose anyone who comes in contact with it to lead.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, said it's important to minimize take-home lead exposure.

“By bringing lead into your home, you are putting your family at risk, especially if you have children," Bedard said. "Lead can severely impact a child’s intellectual development, even in the womb, as well as cause other negative health effects for adults.

If your work involves any of the jobs listed above or if you have a hobby involving any type of renovations or remodeling, it is important that you get tested for lead by your Primary Care Doctor.”

According to the New York State Department of Health, lead levels between 10 and 25 micrograms per deciliter of blood (μg/dL) shows that there has been an exposure to lead and will require further actions for treatment. In 2013, the national prevalence rate of blood leads levels ≥10 μg/dL was 20.4 adults per 100,000 employed.

When lead is exposed to the body, about 90 percent is stored in bones and the rest is distributed to the brain, liver and kidneys. When your body undergoes changes such as aging and pregnancy, lead in the bones can be released into the blood leading to higher blood lead levels and increased likelihood of symptoms.

Lead exposure can be very damaging to your health and even lead to death if exposure is extremely high. Some symptoms include high blood pressure, vision or hearing problems, digestive issues, memory loss, seizures, headaches, pain or tingling in the hands and/or feet, and even feelings of weakness.

Tips to Protect Yourself From Lead:

  • Monitor blood lead levels;
  • Shower after working;
  • Wash your hands before you drink, eat, or smoke;
  • Change clothes before going home;
  • Wash work clothes separately;
  • Wear a fitted respirator with a HEPA filter when working with lead and dust fumes;
  • Participate in your employer's lead screening program.

Lead should be taken seriously and it is important to get tested if you think you may be at risk. For information about lead, click here or contact your local Health Department.

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

Fight against child lead poisoning 'impossible' without more state money

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee County public health officials today expressed concern that a critically important proposal to better protect children from lead poisoning will be impossible to effectively implement without an appropriate commitment of new flexible state resources.

The proposal, which passed the NYS Assembly and is also contained within the Executive Budget, would lower the acceptable blood lead level in children from 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dl) to 5 μg/dl.

Local health officials conservatively estimate that implementing and sustaining the program would increase costs to local health departments by $35 million annually. The Executive Budget proposal allocates just $9.4 million in funding, which is insufficient in both dollar amount and funding structure.

Any and all funding for this proposal must be located within the existing Lead Prevention appropriation to allow for nurses and staff to intervene. Without the proper funding struc- ture, local health departments will not be able to hire staff to meet the demands of this policy.

“Lowering the acceptable blood lead threshold is good policy, but it will trigger an avalanche of intervention demands on local health department nurses and staff,” said NY-SACHO President Paul Pettit, who also serves as Public Health director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

State Health Department data from the three years most recently reported show that nearly 500,000 children under the age of 6 had been screened for lead poisoning. In 2015 alone (the most recent year reported by DOH) 1,800 children tested above 10 μg/dl.

These children and their families required services from local health department staff to engage in the clinical and environmental response strategies necessary protect the entire household from continued lead exposure. Depending on the magnitude of the poisoning sources and required mitigation, these interventions can last days, weeks and even months.

Lowering the limit to 5 μg/dL, while sound public health policy, will dramatically increase the number of children and families who would require similar services.

Based on the five-year average incidence (from 2011-2015), if the lower limit is adopted, approximately 18,000 additional children could require services. Local health departments would be unable to respond to an increase of that scale without a commensurate increase in resources that can be used to hire staff.

“Effective public health policy requires public health resources,” Pettit said. “We will continue working with our state leaders to craft a final proposal that will deliver on its promise of better protecting our children from lead poisoning.”

Public Health Column: It's Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee County Health Department:

Lead in gasoline and paint has been banned in the United States since the 1970s, yet lead exposure and poisoning is still a problem in too many households.

Did you know that today, exposure and poisoning from this toxic metal still affects millions of people? While lead is harmful for everyone, it is even more dangerous to children and can cause lifelong and life-threatening health problems.

In an effort to combat this ongoing problem, the last week in October is recognized as National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, wants to remind our communitythat knowledge is power.

“Lead poisoning can be prevented," Pettit said. "The key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. Take time this week to learn about ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in their environment and preventits serious health effects.”

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead dust. The most common sources of lead can be found in the soil, chipping paint, household dust, contaminated drinking water from old plumbing, lead-glazed pottery, some metal jewelry, and at some jobsites -- typically construction, manufacturing and mining.

“Although the use of lead was banned from products such as paint since 1978, many homes in our communities stillhave remnants of old lead paint in them,” said Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans Counties. “Old, chipping paint, particularly around window sills, door frames, banisters, and porches, can causea serious problem, especially in young children who tend to spend most of their time crawling or playing on the floor.”

Local data shows the majority of the homes in our communities were built before 1978, indicating lead may still be present even under fresh layers of paint. According to the 2016 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates there are approximately 25,657 total housing structures in Genesee County; 76.3 percent were built in 1979 or earlier with 39.6 percent built in 1939 or earlier. In Orleans County there are approximately 18,509 total housing structures; 76.2 percent were built in 1979 or earlier with 45.1percent built in 1939 or earlier. In Wyoming County there are approximately 18,072 total housing structures; 76.0 percent were built in 1979 or earlier with 43.6 percent built in 1939 or earlier.

The chipping paint that Balduf described can produce a dust that is easily ingested by young children who often put their hands in their mouths. This is just one example of how lead can enter their bodies and harm their health by disrupting their growth and development, increasing behavioral problems, and lowering the child’s IQ. Many organs in the body are affected by lead, including the liver, kidneys, lungs, brain, spleen, muscles and heart.

There are typically no signs or symptoms to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or feel sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing. The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in the bloodstream.

According to the New York State Department of Health, it is required that children are tested for lead at age 1 and again at age 2. Children will continue to be monitored for lead at well-child visits until they reach age 6. Pediatricians will explain what the child’s blood level means and if their levels are within a healthy range.

Pregnant women should also be tested as they can pass lead to their unborn baby. High levels of lead during pregnancy can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Other pregnancy problems may include low birth weight, poor growth, and premature delivery.

Lead testing rates in Genesee County from 2016 reveal that 56.8 percent of children were being tested for lead at age one and 54.2 percent of children were being tested for lead at age 2. Lead testing rates in Orleans County from 2017 reveal that 57.9 percent of children were being tested for lead at age one and 51.9 percent of children were being tested for lead at age 2. Lead testing rates in Wyoming County from 2017 reveal that 63.12 percent of children were being tested for lead at age one and 62.79 percent of children were being tested for lead at age 2.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week increases awareness for a year round problem. Educating yourself about the dangers of lead poisoning and ways to lessen lead exposure will benefit the health and well-being of your family. Take action today by reviewing these simple steps to reduce lead exposure in your home.

  • Keep a clean and dust free home.
  • Use a damp cloth and a damp mop to reduce the spread of dust.
  • Teach good handwashing habits.

  • Consume a diet with foods that are rich in nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

  • Good nutrition and regular meals can help prevent lead poisoning since there are many good nutrients being absorbed in the body. An empty stomach has the ability to absorb more lead and store it in the bones. Supporting strong bones and a healthy body will help minimize the amount of lead absorbed in the body.
  • Be mindful to not bring lead home on clothes from jobsites or working on hobbies.

  • Let cold water run for 1 minute before drinking it, especially if it has not been used for a few hours.

  • Fix and repair peeling paint safely. Contact your local health department for more information on how to do so.

  • Take time to talk with your doctor or health department staff to learn more about your risk of lead poisoning or visit the New York State Health Department website at: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/

For information about Health Department services contact:

Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

Public Health Column: How to protect children from lead poisoning and test for it

By Billie Owens

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Do you have small children or grandchildren? Are you pregnant and getting your older home ready for your new baby? Do you live in a house or send your children to a day care center built before 1978? Do you know the last time your child was tested for lead poisoning?

If you don’t know the answer to the last question, talk with your primary care provider or contact your local Health Department and ask about testing.

Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead can be found in dust, air, water, soil, and in some products used in and around the home. Most homes built before 1978 have old lead paint, often under newer paint.

If paint peels, cracks, or is worn down, the chips and dust from the old lead paint can spread onto floors, windowsills and all around your home. Lead dust can then get onto children's hands and toys, and into their mouths.

Generally there are no signs or symptoms to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or feel sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing.

The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in the bloodstream. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, delayed development, and academic achievement.

New York State requires doctors to test all children with a blood lead test at age 1 year and again at age 2 years. At every well-child visit up to age 6, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead.

If there's been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again. Parents can ask their child's doctor or nurse if their child should get a lead test, and what the lead test results mean.

“Children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands and/or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties.

In addition to children, pregnant women should be tested for lead as well.

“Expectant mothers who live in an older home and are exposed to lead dust can inhale the particles and pass it on to their baby," Bedard said. "Your doctor should discuss proper prenatal care to reduce your exposure to lead during your pregnancy and how to prevent lead exposure to your baby once he/she is born.”

The good news is that you can protect your family from lead poisoning. Talk to your healthcare provider about potential lead sources in your house or anywhere your kids spend long periods of time, such as a daycare or a relative’s house.

Here are some ways to reduce or eliminate your exposure to lead/ lead dust:

Fix peeling lead paint and make home repairs safely.

  • Keep children away from peeling or chipped paint.

  • Before making repairs in a home built before 1978, call your local health department to learn how to work safely and keep dust levels down.

  • Children and pregnant women should stay away from repairs that disturb old paint, such as sanding and scraping. They should stay away until the    area is cleaned using wet cleaning methods and a HEPA vacuum (not dry sweeping).

Wash dust off hands, toys, bottles, windows and floors.

  • Wash your child's hands and face after play, before meals, and before bed.

  • Wash toys, stuffed animals, pacifiers and bottles with soap and water often.

  • Mop floors often, and use damp paper towels to clean window wells and sills.

Be careful not to bring lead home on clothes, toys, or jewelry.

Keep lead out of your food and tap water.

Serve foods that have calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

​Lead is in some children's jewelry, toys, keys, and old furniture. Sign up for children's product recall alerts at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.

Some jobs and hobbies can involve contact with lead. These include: painting, plumbing, construction, car repair, or working with firearms, stained glass or pottery.

To lower lead dust, change work clothes before going home; take shoes off at your door; wash work or hobby clothes separately; wash face, hands and uncovered skin before going home.

  • Let tap water run for one minute before using it, if it hasn't been run for a few hours. Town and well water could have lead from old plumbing.

  • Only use cold tap water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Boiling your water does not get rid of lead.

  • Use lead-free dishes. Don't serve or store food in pewter, crystal, or cracked pottery.

These foods help keep lead from being stored in your child's body:

  • Foods with calcium: milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and green, leafy vegetables.

  • Foods with iron: beans, lean meat, fortified cereal and peanut butter.

  • Foods with vitamin C: oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, tomatoes, green peppers.

For information about Health Department services contact: Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

Public Health Column: Learn how to protect your family against lead poisoning

By Billie Owens

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Is your child or grandchild at risk for lead poisoning? If you live in a home with peeling paint that was built before 1978, this may be something to consider.

Most commonly, kids get lead poisoning from lead-based paint, which was used in many U.S. homes until the late 1970s, when the government banned the manufacture of paint containing lead. That is why kids who live in older homes are at a greater risk for lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead dust. Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. In addition to lead based paint in the home, there are many sources of lead including, but not limited to: paint on old toys, furniture, and crafts, dust, soil, drinking water, air, folk medicines, cosmetics, children’s jewelry and toys, workplace and hobbies, lead-glazed ceramics, china, leaded crystal, pewter, imported candies and/or food in cans, firearms with lead bullets, foreign made mini-blinds, car batteries, and radiators.

Lead can harm a young child's growth, ability to learn and may be linked with tooth decay / cavities, hearing loss, and behavior problems. Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.

There are generally no symptoms or signs to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or act sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing. The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in your bloodstream.

Because children continue to be at risk, New York State requires health care providers to test all children for lead with a blood lead test at age 1 year and again at age 2 years. At every well-child visit up to age 6, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead.

If there's been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again. Parents can ask their child's doctor or nurse if their child should get a lead test, and what the lead test results mean.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, commented on why it is important for pregnant women to be tested for lead, too.

“Mothers who live in an older home and are exposed to lead dust can inhale the particles, and pass it on to their baby," Bedard said. "Some of the effects that lead can have on their unborn child include: delayed growth and development, premature delivery, low birth weight, and in some cases may result in a miscarriage.”

If you are pregnant, talk to your provider about getting tested for lead.

Although lead poisoning is preventable, lead continues to be a major cause of poisoning among children. Thousands of children are still at risk. Here are some simple things parents and caregivers can do to reduce a child’s exposure to lead:

  • Find the lead in your home. Most children get lead poisoning from lead paint in homes built before 1978. It is important to find and fix lead in your home as soon as possible. Have your home inspected by a licensed lead inspector;
  • Before purchasing an older home, ask for a lead inspection;
  • Get your child tested. Even if young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead;
  • Learn about drinking water. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder where lead may leach out into the water. Let cold water run for one minute before drinking it, especially if it has not been used for a few hours;
  • Give your child healthy foods. Feed your child healthy foods with calcium, iron, and vitamin C. These foods may help keep lead out of the body. Calcium is in milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. Iron is in lean red meats, beans, peanut butter, and cereals. Vitamin C is in oranges, green and red peppers, and juice.
  • Clean up lead dust. When old paint cracks and peels, it makes lead dust. Lead dust is so small you cannot see it. Children get lead poisoning from swallowing dust on their hands and toys. Use a damp cloth and a damp mop to reduce the spread of dust;
  • Understand the facts! Your local health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.

For information about Health Department services contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

Public Health Column: Beware of lead in paint when tackling spring renovation projects

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee County Health Department:

Spring is here, and although many of us are anticipating the arrival of the warm weather, home renovations will soon begin. A fresh coat of paint can spruce up and room and give it new life.

Many folks are anxious to begin their renovations, but it is crucial to keep in mind the age of your home. If your home was built before 1978, you must consider that the paint in your home could contain lead, and you will have to plan any home renovation, repair, and painting activity with that in mind.

Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in sources of lead. The most common source of lead poisoning comes from lead dust which is created from chipping, peeling, or deteriorated lead based paint. The smallest particles of lead dust cannot be seen but they can easily enter and harm the body.

Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, explains why renovating older homes could turn problematic if not completed properly.

“The greatest risk with renovating older homes is that many people are unaware that their home contains lead based paint because they have completed renovations since the 1970s," she said. "Even if the lead based paint has been covered with new paint or another covering, cracked or chipped painted surfaces can expose the lead based paint, creating a lead hazard.

"If proper precautions are not taken to renovate lead based paint correctly, the health and well-being of the folks residing in the home will be compromised.”

The damaging health effects of lead poisoning are particularly concerning to young children and pregnant women. When lead gets into their bodies, it is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, further explains the complications associated with lead poisoning.

“Children who ingest lead are at risk for developing learning disabilities, behavioral issues, developmental delays, extreme lethargy, and chronic medical complications," he said. "Pregnant women who are exposed to lead can transfer the lead to their fetus.

"Some of the effects lead can have on their unborn child include delayed growth and development, premature delivery, low birth weight, and chronic medical complications. Adults who are exposed to high lead levels can also develop high blood pressure, headaches, digestive problems, memory and concentration problems, kidney damage, mood changes, nerve disorders, sleep disturbances, and muscle or joint pain.”

Although the negative health consequences of lead poisoning are scary, lead poisoning is 100-percent preventable! Renovating older homes require more work and safeguards to ensure the work being completed is done safely.

For larger projects, this may require hiring a lead-certified contractor. For smaller projects, you can manage the work yourself with proper precautions. Below are some tips on how to renovate right:

  • Remove all furnishings, rugs, etc. before beginning your project. The work area should be sealed with plastic and taped down to keep the lead dust in. Cover air vents and turn off heaters and air-conditioning systems during renovation and remodeling.
  • When beginning the renovation it is important to have the proper protective equipment on hand. It is best to wear a properly fitted respirator with special lead HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, as well as coveralls, goggles and gloves.
  • Consider using special paints called encapsulants that seal the lead paint to the surface so it will not chip off.
  • Use low dust practices by spraying water on surfaces before sanding or scraping. Vacuum any lead dust with a HEPA vacuum. Floors should be wet mopped with a removable mop head and then HEPA vacuumed. When finished, the mop head should be disposed or washed separately.
  • Keep all non-workers, especially children, pregnant women, and pets outside of the work area until cleanup is completed.
  • After the project site has been completely cleaned, throw away your protective gear or wash it separately.

For more information on how to renovate right, please visit this government website.

For information about Health Department services contact the Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

Public Health Column: Lower your risk of lead exposure this fall

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Before you start your fall cleanup consider the age of your home and whether or not you may have a lead hazard.

“Lead poisoning can affect anyone, but is especially harmful to pregnant women, infants and small children who are growing rapidly,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans Counties.

Lead poisoning can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, high blood pressure (hypertension), nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems and muscle and joint pain and in children it can lower IQ, cause growth problems, kidney damage, behavior problems, anemia and hearing loss.

If lead poisoning is not taken care of, it can also cause permanent damage to various organs in both children and adults. You may or may not experience any signs or symptoms of lead poisoning. State law requires all children be tested at age 1 and again at age 2. Contact your primary care doctor to be tested.

Federal law requires landlords and contractors who are hired for renovations, repair and painting in homes, childcare centers and schools built before 1978 that disturb painted surfaces, to be certified and follow specific practices to prevent lead contamination.

This law is the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RPR) Rule. Lead-based paint is especially problematic on surfaces that children can chew on such as windowsills, doors and doorframes, stairs, railings, banisters, porches and fences. Lead can also be found in drinking water in homes that have plumbing with lead or lead solder.

“If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, here are some important things you can do to protect your family,” Pettit said.

  • Take advantage of the Free Lead Testing Pilot Program: A $1.5 million state program to test for lead in drinking water is available to New York State residents.  Provides residents who are served by either a private well or public water system with an opportunity to have their residential drinking water tested for free.  To sign-up visit, https://health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/lead/free_lead_testing_pilot_program.htm.
  • If you rent, call the landlord immediately to report peeling or chipping paint.
  • Damp mop and damp dust often. Clean up paint chips right away and clean all other surfaces with general all-purpose cleaner.
  • Let your cold water run for a minute before using it for making baby formula, drinking, brushing your teeth and cooking to flush lead picked up from pipes. Do NOT use warm tap water to make baby formula.
  • Wash children’s hands and toys often to wash off any lead dust. Keep them way from chipping paint and prevent destructive behaviors like chewing on painted surfaces.
  • Always hire certified contractors for work that will disrupt paint in housing or child occupied buildings before 1978 or get properly trained and certified yourself.  For a certified firm check this site: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm.  

For more information about the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.

To learn about additional sources of lead visit, https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/sources.htm

For information about services that your local health department provides visit:

Few children in area suffer from lead poisoning, but it's an issue parents should monitor

By Howard B. Owens

lead_ny2016.jpg

Children being exposed to lead, leading to higher risk of learning disabilities and a risk for other health issues, has regularly been in the news ever since contaminated water was found to be flowing into the homes of Flint, Mich.

This week, the Reuters news agency released a report indicating that 3,000 neighborhoods across the nation seem to have high lead contamination levels.

No neighborhoods in Genesee County appear to be on that list, according to data available through a New York State website that tracks reports of lead poising in children.

In 2012, only four children under age 2 of the 1,036 in the county who were tested had elevated lead levels detected in their blood samples.

Paul Pettit, director of the health departments in Genesee and Orleans counties, said the relevantly few children with elevated lead levels does seem to confirm that there is no widespread contamination in the community.

That doesn't mean it's not an important issue, he said.

The likely culprit in the four cases is lead paint in homes.

Any housing unit built before 1978 may contain lead paint. The paint on older homes chips or gets ground into dust by the opening and closing of doors and windows, and lead particles can fall into carpet or onto flooring where children crawl.

The easiest way to remediate lead paint is to paint over it, which doesn't eliminate the lead paint but does stop the lead particles from spreading. Children can also be exposed to lead while visiting a friend or family member's house, or if parents work in an environment where lead is present and it attaches to clothing or shoes. 

Pettit said parents should have their children tested at age 1 and age 2, for sure, though lead continues to be a risk factor for children through at least age 6.

Typically, the test is conducted in the office of a primary health care physician. It consists of a pinprick on the child's finger and the blood can typically be tested right in the office.

If elevated levels are detected, the child is typically referred to a lab where blood can be drawn and more thoroughly tested.

Ideally, a child will have no lead detected in his or her blood.

The amount of lead is counted by micrograms per deciliter, abbreviated to mcg/dL.

Of the four children in 2012 with elevated lead levels in their blood, one fell within the 10 to 15 mcg/dL range and three were above 15.

Those levels are consistent with a child being exposed to lead paint particles, Pettit said.

When you start seeing children with counts of 50, 60 or higher, it usually means they've ingested something contaminated with lead, such as a paint chip.

In 2012, about 50 to 60 percent of the children who should have been tested for lead were tested for lead, Pettit said.

More recent data was not readily available, but Pettit said of his 20 years involved in public health in the two counties, the numbers of children with elevated lead levels has remained pretty consistent.

When a child is found to have elevated lead levels, in the range up to 15 mcg/dL, the health department works with the parents where the child lives to eliminate possible sources of lead.

When the level is over 15, the process is more involved, Pettit said.  Personnel from the health department visit the home and do a lead risk assessment and develop with the homeowner or landlord a corrective action plan. Landlords are typically cooperative, but the department can issue a "notice and demand" to remediate any problems identified. 

"At 15 and above, it is a serious health issue to the child," Pettit said. "We take intervention steps to stop it."

When levels of 50 or 60 mcg/dL, children are hospitalized so the lead can be removed from their blood.

Lead poisoning in children is associated with cognitive issues and health issues can include decreased bone and muscle growth, poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system, kidneys and hearing.

Petit said he welcomed the opportunity to talk about the issue because he would like to see more awareness among parents on the importance of testing. Every child should be tested.

Authentically Local