YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — It was announced in September that a grant program would help get rid of lead paint in local homes. Now that the program has started, houses in Trumbull and Mahoning counties are eligible for lead paint removal.

More than $6 million in grants will go to help reduce lead paint for about 170 homes over the next 4 years through the Mahoning County Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control Program.

In 1978, the federal government banned the use of lead in paint, but millions of homes across the U.S. still contain lead paint 45 years later. People living in those homes are in danger of lead poisoning.

“The closer you get back to 1900 and before that, you’re almost 100% going to find lead-based paint on some surface in that home,” says Phillip Puryear, program director.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that roughly 35% of U.S. homes contain some lead-based paint. Close to 90% of homes in Youngstown were built before lead paint was banned. Most of the danger is from peeling paint or places that see a lot of activity like windows and door jams.

“When the window goes up and down — or impact surfaces or a door closes and chips paint — and it goes to dust, or it goes to the floor and gets grounded, and the kids go through it and — hand-to-mouth — they get poisoned,” Puryear says.

Lead poisoning can lead to developmental problems, miscarriage, seizures and even death. According to the Mayo Clinic, children under 6, pregnant people and adults who renovate older homes are at a higher risk, which is why this lead abatement program prioritizes families with young children.

“You have to be low-income, with a child under the age of six. We do owner-occupied properties as well as rentals,” Puryear says.

Those interested in applying for the Mahoning County Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control Program can call its office at 330-740-2124.