The city of Portland has been awarded a total of $1.8 million to reduce the risk of lead poisoning related to the city’s aging housing units.

The money, from a Lead Based Paint Hazard Control grant and Healthy Homes Supplemental funding, will be used to reduce lead hazards in 80 housing units occupied by low-income families with children.

The city credits Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for working to secure the money and said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, also supported the funding for this bill.

“We are grateful to Senators Collins and King for their leadership in addressing the pervasive issue of lead poisoning, and thrilled that the City will have greater resources to address and prevent this problem; a problem that disproportionately impacts children in low-income households,” Mayor Ethan Strimling said in a news release.

Portland’s relatively old housing stock puts children at risk because older homes often have lead paint that can peel or chip or turn into dust, all of which can be eaten by young children.

Exposure over time to even small amounts of lead can severely affect mental and physical development. The greatest risk is to brain development, where irreversible damage may occur. Higher levels can damage the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. Very high lead levels may cause seizures, unconsciousness and even death. Lead can also harm an unborn child, so pregnant women or women likely to become pregnant are also at risk.

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