Landlord arrested for ignoring lead problem at West Side house

Maxim Levin, 40, given multiple "Do Not Occupy" orders after children exposed to lead

Mike Baggerman
March 26, 2019 - 12:39 pm

Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - After ignoring "Do Not Occupy" orders at his rental property on 451 Fargo Avenue in Buffalo's West Side, Amherst resident Maxim Levin faces a year in prison.

Levin, 40, was first on the county's radar in 2016 when the health department was notified about a child with elevated blood lead level who resided at the property. He was told he needed to correct the lead issue.

However, he didn't do enough repairs, if any. In July 2018, the health department was again notified about a different child who lived at the home. The "Do Not Occupy" order was issued at the home last September but was removed later that month. Notices were re-posted on the door and side of the house, but again taken down. Another inspection in January found that there were people living in the home.

Levin is now the first person to be charged under the New York State public health law that was enacted in 2014. He was arraigned on Tuesday morning in Buffalo City Court. Levin is in custody on an unrelated federal charge related to taxes.

"There is no safe level of lead for children," Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said. "Exposure to even a small amount of lead in household dust or peeling paint could cause serious life-long damage to a child's heath and their neurological development. Buffalo's housing stock is among the oldest in the United States, with many houses built before 1978, when lead paint was discontinued due to it's toxicity."

Citing HIPAA laws, county officials did not release the current status of the children.

Elevated levels of lead in children could cause a lower IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. In some cases, it can cause seizures, coma, and even death. There is no treatment to reverse lead poisoning.

Burstein urges anyone with concerns about lead inside homes to contact the county health department. She said home tests are not accurate.

"If you want the most accurate information, you (should) work with us," Burstein said.

Homeowners who have lead in home can remediate lead by replacing windows to help with dust, priming areas with lead, then painting over it.

 

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