Lewiston-Auburn's lead abatement program has reached a milestone, clearing 500 units in the two cities of lead hazards in the last nine years. But Program Manager Travis Mills, says it could do a lot more, with a larger pool of contractors.
"We're finding we're bidding projects, and some contractors, they have three or four contracts lined up because we don't have enough contractors to spread the work around," Mill says. "So that's really the bottleneck we have right now."
Mills says the program works regularly with three contractors, and a few others bid on smaller projects.
At its current pace, Mills says the program is removing lead paint hazards from about 80 units a year. But there are as many as 9,000 units that are at risk for lead paint hazards -- which means they not only have lead paint, but have become dilapidated.
"The lead that was put into the paint originally breaks down, and that dust is a heavy metal and it tends to settle on floors and window sills and get blown around the house, and children that are likely to be in contract with the dust will end up ingesting it," Mills says.
Lewiston and Auburn have the highest rate of childhood lead poisoning in the state, although Mills says this might just reflect a higher rate of testing.
State records show 325 children age 3 or younger in the two cities suffered from lead exposure between 2012 and 2016.