Deteriorating paint on window sills can get on the hands of children and be ingested, increasing the likelihood of lead poisoning if it's an older home. (iStock)

Maryland plans to use a $7.2 million federal grant to reduce incidents of lead poisoning and asthma, according to state officials.

The governor’s office announced that the money will pay for a coordinated effort by the state departments of health, environment and housing to identify and repair homes with lead and to help families pinpoint sources of lead exposure and asthma triggers in their homes.

The state hopes to prevent exposures to the triggers and causes of lead poisoning and asthma, rather than just treating them, said Dennis Schrader, secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“This funding is a major step forward in our efforts to prevent these health problems and provide a healthy and safe environment for all Marylanders,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement.

A child’s behavior and cognitive skills can be impaired if they are exposed to lead. For years, lead poisoning was believed to be largely concentrated in Baltimore and found in rental units built before 1950, when the city prohibited the use of lead paint.

But recent studies show that children across the state are testing with lead levels of more than 5 micrograms per deciliter in their blood, which exceeds the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, the governor ordered that all 1- and 2-year-olds be tested for lead poisoning.