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Press Pass: Exposing Buffalo's lead paint problem

Though lead-based paint has not been sold for decades, the substance continues to plague many older cities, including Buffalo. According to Dan Telvock of Investigative Post, 85,500 housing units in Buffalo are considered "at risk."

Lead paint coating the walls in older homes has likely been painted over, perhaps with several layers of paint. Still, as Dan Telvock explained during WBFO's Press Pass, the lead paint can become exposed "anywhere in a home where there's friction."

"The windows, when you and open and close a window, there's that friction, up-and-down, up-and-down, and it creates dust and chips and that's where one of the biggest exposures are for children."

Lead poisoning can create problems in the internal organs of children. It has also been connected with lowering a child's IQ.

"It takes less that a sugar packet of lead-based dust or paint to poison a child," explained Telvock, who says 273 children in 2015  tested positive for relatively high levels of lead in their blood.

Another 123 "required some sort of medical intervention for local officials." That represents a 33 percent increase in one year.

The numbers highlight the need for Buffalo residents to be aware of the potential danger.

"You can call the Erie County Health Department and ask them for an (home) inspection," Telvock said.

"It may take awhile for them to get there because they don't have enough inspectors."

Swipe tests can be also be purchased at home repair stores.

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.