EC Comptroller Raises Red Flags Over Lead in Parks

Calling on Poloncarz to shut down park playgrounds

Mike Baggerman
July 24, 2019 - 9:56 am

Erie County Parks Playground. July 24, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Brendan Keany).jpg

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is raising red flags over lead levels in Erie County Parks and called on the county executive to immediately shut down all playgrounds in Erie County Parks until the playgrounds are safe.

Mychajliw sent a letter to County Executive Mark Poloncarz calling on him to immediately shut down all playground equipment across Erie County Parks following results from his own testing plus an independent lab which showed high levels of lead in peeling paint on 12 swings and slides.

"One half of one percent of the weight total of lead paint chip that contains lead can be considered dangerous," Mychajliw said. "On one of the pieces of playground equipment, it was 36 times that number within a county park."

The Comptroller's report characterizes poor conditions of playground equipment and asks that the equipment that is the subject of the positive lead tests be removed from parks within 24 hours and demands all playground equipment undergo complete testing.

"I'm a father," Mychajliw said. "I have serious concerns about letting my own children play on slides or swings in Erie County Parks. The reason why we had sent these tests to an independent lab is because we were conducting the report just on the deteriorating conditions within Erie County Parks. Then we went a step further after finding fiscal mismanagement after finding disrepair of actually testing paint chips for lead."

Poloncarz told reporters that closing the playgrounds at public parks will not happen while adding that only repeated exposure to lead causes problems. The county executive said that most of the playground equipment was made after 1978, when the use of lead-based paint ended.

"Going to a park and sliding down an old slide from the 1930's and 40's is not going to cause lead poisoning," Poloncarz said. "Living in a house that has lead paint on the walls, when you lift the window sashes and the lead dust gets into the air and it's constantly breathed in by a child, causes lead poisoning."

The county executive said some of the equipment will be removed as part of the park's master plan.

"Our health department is coming out and doing the work with the parks department," Poloncarz said. "If there's a piece that's bad it will be shut down. If it's safe, we'll allow it to be used because we want people to use the parks."

 

 

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