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Statement on Implementation Delays of new Lead Poisoning Standards

LEWISTON –Sandy Albert, Director of Housing Improvement Services at Community Concepts offers the following statement on delays associated with implementing new Lead Poisoning standards.

As the organization that provides lead environmental investigations for the CDC and Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program, Community Concepts has a unique perspective on recent reports of delays in implementing new lead standards.  Recent news stories by Maine Public Broadcasting and the Bangor Daily News have helped to raise awareness about this issue.

In order to start reducing the risk of lead hazards within housing units, especially those with small children, it is critical for the new legislation to be implemented immediately.

Lowering the threshold for lead poisoning from 15 micrograms per deciliter to 5 is an important first step in helping to ensure the health of Maine families.   The next step is to institute clear, concise rules so that family, health and housing advocates as well as contractors are sharing the same information.

According to the Maine CDC, children who are lead poisoned show a relation to a number of serious health problems.  Children with elevated blood lead levels may suffer from learning disabilities, mental retardation, behavioral problems, lowered IQ, stunted growth and hearing impairment.  Convulsions, coma and death can occur at higher blood lead levels.  Some recent studies claim that childhood lead poisoning can contribute to problems later in life, such as academic failure, juvenile delinquency and high blood pressure.

After a child is identified as having high levels of lead in their system, Environmental Lead Investigations are critical.   The investigation identifies exposure sources within a child’s dwelling that can pinpoint probable sources of that lead poisoning.

Once the Environmental Lead Investigation has been completed, the sources of exposure of the lead poisoned child are identified and then action can take place to eliminate any further exposure.

All of these steps take time and coordination.   The rule making and vetting process at the state level is important, however, these delays are having an impact on the health of children and families.

When applying the older standard for lead poisoning, 219 children over the past 10 years have been poisoned by lead in the Lewiston- Auburn area.   We believe this new threshold will result in the identification of even more children who are at risk.  Early identification is crucial to the health of these children and peace of mind for the families.

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Sandy Albert, Community Concepts-Director of Housing Improvement Services is available for media interviews.  Contact her at: salbert@community-concepts.org or call 207-739-6560.