The City of Portland has received a $3 million grant from the federal government to reduce lead in low-income housing.
Much of the city’s housing was built before 1978, when the use of lead in paint was banned.
The National Institutes of Health has found that the heavy metal can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Commissioner Steve Novick made a connection between lead contamination and social ills.
“There’s a fair amount of pretty convincing research that suggests that a large part of the explanation for both the spike in crime in the U.S. in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and the reduction in crime since then, is that we had an explosion of lead in the environment, largely because of leaded gasoline, and then a dramatic reduction of lead in the environment both from the elimination of lead in gasoline plus through efforts such as this.”
Portland has received the competitive grant since 1998.
Over those years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given Portland $19 million, which has been used to remove lead from about 1600 low income homes.