2nd District Congressman Jared Golden held a roundtable discussion at Community Concepts in Lewiston, with a focus on addressing the what he calls the "lead crisis in Maine."
“So many people know nothing about it, and it is a really severe toxin,” Golden says. “Lead, it is incredibly harmful to children in particular, because they're still developing. And so it causes a lot of brain development issues, a lot of organ development problems. And it’s bad for adults too.”
Lewiston Mayor Kristen Cloutier, was also in attendance, along with health and housing advocates and Mainers whose lives have been affected by lead poisoning.
On Thursday Golden introduced a measure called the Lead- Free Future Act, which would, in part, create a new higher screening standard for children.
“The second part of the bill is really just aimed at trying to make sure that we're screening more children more effectively,” he says. “People used to believe that there was a certain amount of lead in the blood that was acceptable and save, the CDC used to say that was 15 micrograms per deciliter, they now believe that it's five.”
Golden is asking for $2.4 billion per year over five years to fund the legislation.
“I think I have a long fight ahead to make, you know, in Congress,” says Golden. “But I know that I'm right in terms of the policy making and the moral side of this because literally 500,000 kids in the United States of America right now suffering from lead poisoning.”
In March, a report from the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition found that Maine has the lowest screening rate for lead poisoning in New England. The advocacy organization Healthy Androscoggin estimates that about 300 kids in the Lewiston-Auburn area were exposed to lead poisoning between 2013 and 2017.