Too much lead in the body can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells. High levels can cause retardation, convulsions, coma and sometimes death. Low levels can slow a child's normal development and cause learning and behavioral problems. Lead paint is considered one of Maine's most dangerous threats to children.
While most interior and exterior house paints sold since the mid-1970's have not contained lead, most older Maine homes still have surfaces painted with lead-based paint. Lead poisoning is caused by eating, chewing or sucking on lead painted objects such as windowsills, railings, toys, furniture, jewelry or printed material. Other sources include contaminated soil or dust and fumes created by home renovation and sand blasting. The risk of lead poisoning is increased by normal hand-to-mouth activity in young children. Renovations of older homes (e.g., painting) can often result in freeing up lead paint particles.
Maine law requires landlords to make certain disclosures to their tenants concerning lead paint . The Department of Human Services, Division of Health Engineering is responsible for establishing approved methods for removal, replacement, covering and disposal precautions of lead-based substances. Lead paint removers must now be certified by the State. The Lead Poisoning Control Act provides significant remedies to injured consumers. Contact the DHS Indoor Air Program at 207-287-5689 or the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 207-287-4311 for more information.