Senate approves Libby bill to reduce lead poisoning rates

Posted: May 22, 2019 | Senator Libby

A bill sponsored by Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, would reduce lead poisoning rates among Maine children. LD 1116 “An Act To Strengthen the Lead Poisoning Control Act” was unanimously supported in the Senate on Tuesday.

“We’ve made great progress on protecting kids from lead poisoning in recent years, but our work is not done,” said Sen. Libby. “When kids are tested early, we can quickly act to get the situation remedied. The urgency of this problem is reflected in today’s unanimous vote.”

Lead poisoning can cause permanent and irreversible cognitive impairment. Children and their developing brains are especially at risk of damage from exposure to lead. If a child doesn’t get tested and lead exposure isn’t known about, the child will continue to be exposed to lead, and the damage will continue.

Current law mandates that only 1- and 2-year-olds who are covered by MaineCare be tested for lead exposure. The amended version of LD 1116 that the committee passed would mandate lead testing for all 1- and 2-year-olds in Maine, regardless of income.

Lewiston and Auburn have the highest rates of lead poisoning in Maine due to a combination of older housing stock and a recent increased awareness of the importance of testing for lead poisoning.

LD 1116 now faces further votes in the Maine Senate and House.