Revising State Law To Protect Children from Lead Exposure

MAINE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

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Maine reduced the blood lead level that triggers home lead inspections, resulting in removal of more lead hazards and reduced lead levels in children.

Photo: Paint peeling off a wall

July 23, 2019

More than a quarter of homes in Maine were built before 1950, when lead paint was widely used. Lead in the blood of infants and children can cause health and developmental problems and affect nearly every system in the body. Maine had required inspection of a child’s home if the child’s blood lead level went above 15 micrograms per deciliter. But in 2015, in response to newer CDC recommendationspdf icon[PDF – 920KB], Maine passed a law requiring home inspections at only 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher. Most states don’t require inspections until levels reach 10 micrograms.

There were concerns that the increased number of inspections would not find enough lead hazards to justify the expense. But a new studyexternal icon has found that inspections of homes of children who had blood lead levels at 5 to 9 micrograms per deciliter were nearly as likely to find lead hazards requiring removal as inspections of homes of children with levels at 10 micrograms per deciliter. Researchersexternal icon also tested blood levels from a small sample of children and found that lead levels decreased in most of the children after the lead hazard was removed from their home. Maine is now one of the first states to require home inspections when a child’s blood level reaches 5 milligrams per deciliter.

For more information:

Andrew E. Smith, ScD, SM, State Toxicologist, Maine Center for Disease Control and Preventionexternal icon

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Page last reviewed: July 23, 2019