80 Local Physicians and Medical Professionals Call on City of Buffalo to Implement the Proactive Rental Inspections (PRI) Law to Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning

Date: July 1, 2024

Today, 80 local physicians and other medical professionals, along with the New York State Chapter 1 of the American Academy of Pediatrics, joined together with one voice to urge City of Buffalo leaders to protect Buffalo’s children and fully implement the Proactive Rental Inspections law (PRI).

The group sent a letter to Mayor Byron W. Brown, Commissioner of Permit & Inspection Services Catherine Amdur, and the Buffalo Common Council imploring them to follow through on enforcing PRI.


July 1, 2024
Honorable Byron W. Brown, Commissioner Catherine Amdur, and City of Buffalo Common Council
City of Buffalo
65 Niagara Square
Buffalo, N.Y. 14202
Dear Mayor Brown, Commissioner Amdur, and Buffalo Common Council members:
As local physicians dedicated to improving the health of children in our community, we ask the Brown Administration to fully implement the Proactive Rental Inspections (PRI) law. We also urge Mayor Brown and the Buffalo Common Council to allot adequate funding for inspections in the 2024-2025 budget.
This important legislation, enacted by the city in 2020, aimed to reduce unacceptably high rates of lead poisoning among Buffalo’s children and address other health and safety issues created by substandard rental housing.
The passage of the PRI legislation was a welcomed milestone. Unfortunately, there has been a low rate of actual inspections completed under the ordinance. In Commissioner Amdur’s most recent report to the Council, she disclosed that the city has only inspected 4,827 units,[1] meaning 87% of the 36,000 units covered under PRI have not undergone inspection. Yet, we still see more than 200 children per year, in the city alone, poisoned by lead from flaking and peeling paint while the law remains largely unenforced.[2]
For context on the lead crisis, children in Buffalo have significantly higher lead levels than the children in Flint, Michigan.[3] Lead poisoning causes permanent neurological damage. Treatment with medication, such as chelating agents, can help hasten lead removal from the body – but the effects of lead are irreversible. As physicians, it is frustrating to have limited medical options to protect our young patients. 
By far, the greatest source of the high lead levels of children in the city of Buffalo remains rental housing units with leaded paint. Primary prevention, which this law can effectuate, will help protect our community’s children and prevent the hundreds of lead poisonings we diagnose each year. 
The success of this law’s preventive approach has been demonstrated in our nearby neighboring city, Rochester, where a similar ordinance passed in 2006. From 2006 to 2016, the percentage of children in Rochester who tested positive for lead poisoning dropped by two-thirds, from 6% to 2%.[4]
Rochester completed inspections on almost all target units in the first four years of the program.[5] By contrast, in the first three full years of enforcement of PRI in Buffalo, the city completed 4,182 inspections – inspecting only 12% of targeted units.[6] At the present rate, it will take 26 years to complete the first round of inspections.
We’ve known about the harmful impacts of lead paint for over 100 years. It’s long past time for the city of Buffalo – home to some of the oldest housing stock in the nation – to aggressively work to ensure owners of rental housing in our city stay compliant with protection measures, as well as ensure the basic health and safety of our city’s youth. This is especially critical because neighborhoods with the highest levels of childhood lead poisoning are the same neighborhoods that have some of the highest rates of poverty in our city. By failing to enact PRI, we fail to provide a desperately needed safeguard to the children who need it most. 
We strongly urge you, as leaders of this city, to follow through on the promises made when this law first passed. Our city’s children, both now and in the future, deserve it.

New York State Chapter 1 of the American Academy of Pediatrics
A.S. Narayana Shenoy MD
Adam Howard MD
Aisha Abdulle FNP at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Alicia Supernault-Sarker MD MPH FAAP
Allana Krolikowski MD FAAFP at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Amanda Duggan MD at University at Buffalo
Amanda S’Doia MD FAAP at Amherst Pediatrics
Amos Moberg MD FAAP at Town and Village Pediatrics
Amy Braun MD at Tonawanda Pediatrics, Medical Health Associates
Andrea T. Manyon MD Professor and Chair at Jacobs School of Medicine, Dept of Family Medicine
Andrew D. Hurst MD at UBMD Internal Medicine-Pediatrics 
Anthony Burdo MD at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Ashley DeLuca DO at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Ashley Wyant PA-C at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Beverly Schaefer MD at Roswell Park Cancer & Blood Disorders program
Carla Henke MD at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Christopher Mascia MD at Tonawanda Pediatrics / Medical Health Associates of WNY
Clare Martin MD
Colleen Mattimore MD FAAP at Main Pediatrics
Cristina Misa MD
Cynthia A. Pristach MD
David A. Lawton MD
David A. Silverstein MD
Deborah Raiken MD
Djulie Zanatta MD at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Douglas A. Schultz MD
Drucy Borowitz MD
Elizabeth M. Harding MD at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Emilie Tomkinson MD at UBMD and Jericho Road Community Health Center
Emily Friedan MD FAAP at Main Pediatrics
Eun Beattie MD
Evelyn Hurvitz MD at Medical Health Associates-Tonawanda Pediatrics
Frank P. Altieri MD MS FAAOS
Gail Goodman MD
Gail H. Ferguson MD at Neighborhood Health Center
Grant W Stephenson MD
Gregory Bennett MD
Howard Faden MD and Professor of Pediatrics at Jacobs School of Medicine, Dept. of Pediatrics
James Stoltzfus MD MPH, Jericho Road Community Health Center
Jessica Donhauser MD
Joseph Kita MD
Joseph S. Testa MD
Joshua Owczarczak MD at UB Internal Medicine
Kara Oliver DO at UBMD Pediatrics
Katherine Luce MD at Delaware Pediatric Associates
Kendria Hall MD MS
Kim Griswold MD MPH
Lauren Lucente MD
Laurie Kasnicki MD
Lorne Freedman MD
Lyndsey Milcarek PA-C MPH
M. Seth Owitz MD
Marc Klementowski MD FAAFP at UBMD Emergency Medicine
Matthew Guerinot DO
Matthew Swatski MD FAAP
Maxwell Costich MD
Meghan E. Jacobs MD at UBMD Pediatrics
Melinda S. Cameron MD and retired Medical Director at WNY Lead Poisoning Prevention Center
Michael D. Terranova MD FAAP at Lancaster-Depew Pediatrics
Michael Heimerl MD at Main Pediatrics
Michele Carr DDS MD PhD
Myron Glick MD and CEO at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Natalie Asbach PA-C at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Nitza Ellis MD, retired from Delaware Pediatrics
Odeyuwa Izekor MD
Omar Shawaf DO
Philip L Glick MD MBA at Jacobs School of Medicine
Phoebe Dembs MD MSW
Rosenda Belmonte PA-C at Jericho Road Community Health Center
Samara Appelstein DO
Sarah Milazzo MD
Shalok Singh
Sheri Wagner MD
Sourav Sengupta MD MPH and Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
Stanley L. Bukowski MD
Stephen Turkovich MD at Oishei Children’s Hospital
Steven Awner MD at Oishei Children’s Hospital, Ophthalmology dept
Theresa Wegman MD
Vicki Ip MD at Neighborhood Health Center
William R. Kuehnling MD at General Physician PC

[1] City of Buffalo New York, Department of Permits and Inspections Services, March 14, 2024, Commissioner’s Report
[2] Health Data New York, “Childhood Blood Lead Testing and Elevated Incidence by Zip Code: Beginning 2000,” New York State Department of Health, accessed January 11, 2023, https://health.data.ny.gov/Health/Childhood-Blood-Lead-Testing-and-Elevated-Incidenc/d54z-enu8/about_data
[3] Pell, M.B.; Schneyer, J.; Sullivan, A, “Hundreds More Lead Hotspots Are Identified as Trump Prepares to Gut

Programs,” Reuters, April 21, 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hundredsmore-

[4] Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities, (the MIT Press, 2019), Chapter 4 - The Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning: Promoting Primary Prevention in Rochester, New York, https://direct.mit.edu/books/oa-monograph/4559/chapter-standard/203576/The-Coalition-to-Prevent-Lead-Poisoning-Promoting
[5] Smith Korfmacher, Katrina; Avoob, Maria; Morley, Rebecca, “Rochester’s Lead Law: Evaluation of a Local Environmental Health Policy Innovation,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 120, Issue 3 (2011), pages 309-315, https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.1103606
[6] City of Buffalo New York, Department of Permits and Inspections Services, March 14, 2024, Commissioner’s Report