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Multi-Million Dollar Effort Announced To Eliminate Lead Paint Dangers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – It's a hidden danger that's affected the health of thousands of Baltimore City children -- hazardous lead in paint and other items in homes. Now there's a multi-million dollar effort to eliminate lead paint dangers.

Rick Ritter explains what the grant money will be used for.

The U.S housing secretary announced a $4 million grant for Baltimore City. It will help children who live in low income houses and are at risk of lead poisoning.

Cracked, chipped away at and easily disguised.

"It has really changed my whole family life," said Tameka Witherspoon.

Lead poisoning continues to wreak havoc on parts of Baltimore, leaving some like Tameka Witherspoon's daughter with brain problems and a long road to recovery.

"Knowing that my daughter still has to worry about education when she grows up, worrying about if she can ever keep a job," said Witherspoon.

Her story is being felt throughout the city.

On Tuesday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Baltimore a grant of nearly $4 million. This, to help screen hundreds of families at risk of lead poisoning and fix up their low income homes.

"We do everything that we can to make sure that another mother like Tameka doesn't have to tell that story," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

From Dundalk to Northeast Baltimore, lead hazards continue to take a toll on families.

Bernice Aquino's daughter could barely breathe when they moved to Northeast Baltimore.

"You can't sleep knowing that your child, there's something wrong with them but you don't know what it is," said Aquino.

Testing by the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative discovered lead in and outside the home before they could overhaul her property.

"You could smell it. You could smell that something wasn't right in the air," said Aquino.

"It turns out what they were smelling was mold but they were right that something was very wrong. The hidden danger was lead paint inside and outside their home.

Some 3,200 children in Maryland are poisoned by lead each year and more than a 500,000 nationwide -- numbers the city is desperate to help turn around.

"I don't want to see another family go through what my family's going through," said Witherspoon.

Witherspoon says her daughter is doing much better after being treated for exposure to lead but still worries about long-term damage that most suffer from as they continue to get older.

Aquino's daughter did not have lead poisoning but experienced breathing problems from exposure to lead paint. Aquino says she's now much better, even participating in track for her school.

Both of the parents WJZ spoke with say their daughters are doing much better after being treated for exposure to lead but still worry about long term damage that most suffer from as they continue to get older.

Lead poisoning is the number one environmental hazard threatening children in the United States.

The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative is the nation's largest organization focused on healthier housing, which is now working in 25 cities.

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