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Health

Health Advocates: New Law Requires All Maine Kids To Be Tested For Lead Exposure

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Patty Wight
/
Maine Public
Dr. Linda Glass shows the tools needed to do a lead test, at a news conference Tuesday.

Physicians, health advocates, and lawmakers convened a news conference Tuesday to remind parents and doctors that a new state law now requires that every child be tested for lead exposure at ages one and two.

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Credit Patty Wight / Maine Public
/
Maine Public
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah speaks at a news conference on lead poisoning Tuesday.

Dr. Linda Glass, of Pediatric Associates, says Maine's old housing stock puts kids at higher risk for lead poisoning, which can cause developmental delays. And catching it early, Glass said, matters.

"There is no cure. The only thing we have is opportunity," she said, "and the opportunity we have is to test children."

State CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the number of children in Maine with elevated levels of lead has dropped from about a thousand a year more than a decade ago to about 300 a year currently. "Although that is significant progress, and progress we should mark, that's still 300 kids too many."

New data from the Maine Center for Disease Control released at the press conference show that more than a thousand Maine children have been identified as lead poisoned since the fall of 2016.