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Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
  • Published
    September 6, 2015

    Somalis: From homeless to homes infested with poisonous lead

    In 2000 and 2001, Somali refugees poured into Lewiston. And while they found a home there, they also found trouble. “The initial crisis was getting people off the streets, off of homelessness, into homes,” said Fatuma Hussein, head of United Somali Women of Maine. “We didn’t know what we were getting into.” What the Somali families were getting into turned out to be something that was getting into them: poisonous ...

  • Published
    September 6, 2015

    Lewiston-Auburn ground zero in war against lead paint poisoning of kids

    On Nov. 15, 1999, Sen. Susan Collins called to order a special Senate committee meeting in Lewiston City Hall. The Senate Subcommittee on Public Health had traveled to Maine, Collins said, to examine “the serious impact” of lead poisoning on children. At the time, childhood lead poisoning was on its way to becoming an old and forgotten problem in the nation’s mind. It had been little more than 20 years since ...

  • Published
    August 30, 2015

    The right way to handle lead paint ‘on the job’

    It looked like any other house in need of work, but it wasn’t for Randy Trefethen and his team from Renovate Right Construction. Danger lurked on the job. The house was packed with lead paint, a poison that can damage the brain and organs when it gets into the bloodstream through lead dust thrown into the air during sanding and renovation. Trefethen described himself as “a hyper guy,” proven by his big-grinned ...

  • Published
    August 30, 2015

    Feds, state rarely enforce law that protects homeowners from lead poisoning

    Thousands of Maine children and hundreds of thousands across the country are being exposed to poisonous lead paint because a federal law designed to protect them is barely being enforced. The 2010 law, the “Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule,” requires that contractors must be trained in and follow lead-safe practices that prevent the spread of lead particles during home renovations. But a Maine Center for ...

  • Published
    August 12, 2015

    State expert: ‘Not doing enough’ to eliminate lead poisoning

    In 2009, Marisa Nadeau and her young children moved into an apartment connected to the 200-year-old Hallowell home owned by Nadeau’s parents. The parents were renovating the rest of the old Federal house, but were meticulous about the work so Nadeau’s children wouldn’t be exposed to toxic dust from the centuries of lead paint on the walls. “They cleaned up really good,” said Nadeau, even using a special lead-block...

  • Published
    August 5, 2015

    The problem for Maine kids that won’t go away: lead paint poisoning

    Childhood lead poisoning: It’s the problem that everyone thinks has gone away. But everyone is wrong. Lead poisoning was the headline-grabbing public health controversy of the 1970s and 80s, but later got pushed to the back pages by fresher issues, like the industrial chemical called BPA used in toys and the flame retardants in children’s clothing. But, while politicians and the media took up trendier topics ...

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