Forum addresses lead contamination

Published April 10, 2014

The continuing problem of lead in Western New York homes — a toxin that has been shown to cause developmental impairment in children and health problems in adults — will be the focus of a major conference on April 11, at the UB Law School.

The forum, “No More Toxic Housing: Creative Legal, Policy and Grassroots Solutions for Buffalo and Beyond,” will bring together local activists, academics, community organizers and local, state and federal experts to provide a multifaceted look at addressing lead contamination. Keynote speaker will be the Rev. Darius G. Pridgen, president of the Buffalo Common Council.

Registration is available through the conference website.

“We have made progress in the Buffalo area on Green and Healthy Homes and lead poisoning in particular,” says Kim Diana Connolly, vice dean for legal skills, who directs the Law School’s clinical program and is one of three instructors of the school’s Healthy Homes Legal Practicum. “We have, however, far to go to have the kind of impact that the citizens of this region deserve and that can serve as a model for other regions.”

Many of the lead poisoning cases reported in New York State occur in eight ZIP codes in Buffalo. Though local groups have been working together to address this problem for decades, lead toxicity remains a persistent problem despite their efforts. The forum seeks to explore new strategies for homes and communities that can have a broader impact on lead and other toxic housing conditions.

The program is sponsored by the Law School and its Healthy Homes Legal Practicum, the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Neighborhood Legal Services and UB’s Civic Engagement and Public Policy Research Initiative.

Students in the Law School practicum provide legal support to the community through various partners through a direct service-learning component, including a placement through Neighborhood Legal Services. In the current academic year, practicum students have assisted 72 households — comprising 102 adults and 63 children — who face unsafe and unhealthy living conditions.