AUGUSTA (AP) – In response to several national recalls of toys on which lead paint was found, Maine health officials issued a warning Monday to consumers who may have purchased toys that could endanger their children.

“We need to be sure that lead paint hazards are removed from the home wherever possible and that all young children are screened,” Dora Anne Mills, director of the state Health Bureau, said at a State House news conference.

Mills said lead toxins can damage the brains of young and unborn children and cause learning disabilities.

She said young children should be screened for lead.

Screening during the past decade has identified as many as 6,000 Maine children with elevated lead levels, but the annual number has been dropping during the last few years, state health officials said.

Officials, including Gov. John Baldacci, issued their warning in the wake of a string of five recalls by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the latest of which was issued Aug. 19.

In the latest recall, officials ordered the recall of 3,800 pieces of children’s furniture that have lead paint. The pieces were imported from China.

Other recalls covered hundreds of millions of pieces of jewelry, made in India, that were sold in vending machines, and 76,000 units of sidewalk chalk, made in China.

Officials encouraged Maine parents to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site to see which products present risks.

MaryAnne Amrich, director of the state Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, said testing devices that show whether toys have lead paint can be purchased in many hardware stores.

Amrich demonstrated the devices on an antique child’s rocking chair and a fire engine in which a young child can sit. The paint on both showed tested for the presence of lead.



On the Net:

Lead Program Web site http://www.maine.gov/dhs/bohdcfh/led/index2.htm

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: http://www.cpsc.gov/

AP-ES-08-30-04 1427EDT



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