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Lead Paint: Legal Issues for Medical Providers

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9/12/2016 Notice: Maine has new lead paint regulations that take effect on September 12, 2016. We will update this page to include these new regulations as soon as possible.

Childhood Lead Poisoning in Lewiston/Auburn

From 2010-2014, Androscoggin County had the highest number of kids with blood lead levels of >5µg/dL. When the statewide data is viewed at the city level, Lewiston-Auburn had the highest number of kids at the >5µg/dL level.

 

How is poisoning happening?

Lead paint can be in any home built before 1978. Poorly maintained lead paint; lead paint on surfaces that see constant friction from movement, such as windows and doors; and home construction all create lead dust. The lead dust accumulates on windowsills and floors inside the home, and on front porches and in the soil outside the home.

Children are then poisoned when they breathe in the lead dust or ingest it from putting their hands or toys in their mouths. Children under 6 are most at risk.

Refugee Children: Newly arrived refugee children up to the age of 16 are also at a high risk for lead poisoning, in part due to pre-existing issues with malnutrition.

 

How You Can Help Us Enforce Children’s Rights to Live in a Safe and Healthy Home

In March of 2015, the Maine CDC updated the annual risk assessment questionnaire as part of its effort to increase the screening of children for lead.

The U.S. CDC recommends initial blood lead level testing for refugee children at ages 6 months to 16 years upon arrival. Repeat testing should occur 3 to 6 months after the children are placed in a permanent residence (automatically for kids 6 months to 6 years/if warranted for kids ages 6 to 16 years) regardless of their initial results.

You can use the Maine questionnaire and the CDC refugee screening recommendation to make sure ALL at-risk children receive the blood lead screenings they need to be safe.

 

State Law

The Maine Lead Poisoning Control Act is designed to make sure that children are not living and playing in homes that put them at risk for lead poisoning. If the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (MCLPPP) has reason to believe there is a lead hazard in a child’s home, it will send an inspector to start an environmental lead investigation. When the lead inspector confirms the home contains dangerous lead paint, the state sends the landlord an order to abate the lead hazard. If children under 6 are living in the unsafe home, the state may also order the landlord to relocate the family. It would then be the landlord’s responsibility to:

  1. Find a lead-safe unit in a similar location with similar accommodations.
  2. Pay the family’s reasonable moving costs.
  3. Pay any difference between the rent in the temporary unit and the family’s home.

The provisions of this law are triggered when a family does a home dust test kit OR when the state confirms a child’s elevated blood lead level.

Since many families may not understand how to obtain the dust test kit or how to perform the testing, blood screening is a vital component to making sure children are protected in their homes.

 

Legal Referrals

Our services are free to all low-income families. When the parents of your patients learn that their children have elevated blood lead levels, you can tell them to call us for help understanding their legal rights. For more information, visit KIDS LEGAL Can Help.