Maine has introduced a law that would attempt to curb childhood lead exposure in the state. The law requires all one- and two-year-old children in the state to be tested for lead exposure, Bangor Daily News reports.

Maine, like other Northeast states, has some of the oldest housing in the nation that contains lead, which was banned by the federal government in 1978. However, the state also has had one of the lowest rates of testing for lead poisoning in children in New England, said Maine Senate Majority Leader Nate Libby. Before the new law, Maine was the only New England state to not require universal lead testing.

Children in the Lewiston-Auburn metro up to age 3 have the highest incidence of lead poisoning in the state. That can affect their brain function and cause behavioral issues, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, cited research saying that between 2013 and 2017, some 1,782 Maine children were identified as lead poisoned. But the actual number in Maine could be as much as 50% higher because to date, only those kids who received a test could be identified.

State toxicologist Andrew Smith said earlier that the biggest risk factor in lead is the poor condition of old housing before 1950. The issue is primarily dust, as babies crawl on floors or grab onto window sills with lead paint chips, and then put their hands into their mouths and ingest lead.

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