Lead poisoning in Maine

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Why This Indicator Matters

Why it is important
According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. There is no safe level of lead in a person’s blood. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The most important step parents, doctors, and others can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs. CDC fact sheet on elevated lead levels in children 

What the data shows
In Maine, in 2018, about three out of every 100 Maine children tested for blood lead was found to have a venous blood lead level of 5 µg/dL or higher.  In 2017, there were an estimated 288 children ages 0 - 3 in Maine with a blood lead level at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL). Approximately 40% of all childhood lead poisonings occurred in just four communities: Lewiston/Auburn, Portland/Westbrook, Saco/Biddeford and Sanford. Further examination shows that within these five areas, more than 80% of lead poisoned children lived in rental housing. In 2018, 10,820 children ages 0 -36 months were screened, and of that number, approximately 2.7% tested positive for elevated blood lead levels.

At a county level, in 2018, the counties with rates of lead poisonings above the state averages were: Androscoggin 4.5%, Knox 3.9%, Somerset 3.2% and Cumberland at 3.1%.
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Definitions: Children can be given a blood test to measure the level of lead in their blood. If a venous blood lead level is at or above 5 ug/dL it is an elevated blood lead indicative of lead poisoning. The estimated number of children with a blood lead level ≥5 ug/dL is the number with confirmed tests plus 38% of the children with unconfirmed 5-<10 ug/dL tests. The percent of lead poisoning reflects the number of children in the county ages 0-<36 months with elevated blood lead levels among the number screened.

Data Source: Maine Center for Disease Control, Maine Tracking Network

Footnotes: Uploaded August 2020