Patty Wight / Maine Public

Maine is receiving nearly $15 million in federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to identify and clean up lead in low- to moderate-income housing.


Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems if ingested, breathed in or absorbed. It can be found in water, paint, ammunition and other sources. These can be present in our homes, environment and workplaces. Among the new actions statewide to address lead contamination is a law that requires that 1- and 2-year-olds be tested for lead. We’ll learn about common lead problems in Maine, and what can be done to address them.

Lead-based paint was extremely popular in the early and mid-20th century — used in an estimated 38 million homes across the U.S. before it was banned for residential use in 1978.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Senate is unanimously supporting a proposal to provide more comprehensive testing for lead in school drinking water.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Lawmakers in Maine held a hearing on a bill that would require all schools test for lead in drinking and cooking water.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Senate has unanimously voted to create a program designed to make sure drinking water in schools is safe.
The Senate voted Wednesday in favor of amended legislation offered by Sen. Rebecca Millett, a Democrat from Cape Elizabeth. The bill directs the Maine Department of Education to develop a grant program so schools can test water that is used for drinking or cooking for lead contamination.
Millett says the grant program is important because lead poisoning can cause cognitive impairment and other health problems in children.

Maine's new lead exposure standards have led to a 10-fold jump in children identified as having been poisoned by lead.
The Portland Press Herald reports that a new law that changed standards for lead poisoning has identified 386 children as having been poisoned by lead. The law has been in effect for a year.
The law lowers the leading poisoning threshold to start intervention methods from 15 micrograms of lead per deciliter to 5 micrograms.

With new state standards in place designed to reduce blood-lead levels in children, the City of Portland is urging landlords and homeowners to apply for help with lead abatement in their homes.

“Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the nation,” says Mary Davis with the City of Portland Housing and Community Development Division.

Davis says there’s no way to make a pre-1978 home absolutely free of lead, but funds from a newly acquired, three-year federal Housing and Urban Development grant can help make older homes more “lead safe.”

BENTON, Maine - State toxicologists are investigating high lead levels in the water at Benton Elementary School. The school shut off water used for drinking and cooking after lead was found.

One test found lead levels more than 40 times the federal standard. The general manager of the Kennebec Water District Jeff LaCasse says the source is likely within the school.

“Most of the time, the solution to this, or the mitigation, is to replace the problem areas, whether it’s pipes or fixtures or both,” LaCasse said.

LEWISTON, Maine - After more than a year, Maine's new, stricter laws on childhood lead poisoning have finally gone into effect. Lawmakers and advocates announced the full implementation on Wednesday in Lewiston.

Last June, the Legislature passed a law to lower the state's childhood lead poisoning standard down to the federally recommended level of 5 micrograms per deciliter. However, it took nine months - and repeated requests by legislators - for the state's Department of Health and Human Services to formally propose rules to implement the new standard.