The state is nearly ready to unveil a plan to eliminate lead poisoning in Maine over five years, a goal adopted into law back in 1992.

“It’s doable, although certainly we face a lot of uphill challenges,” said Dr. Dora Mills, Maine’s chief health officer. “We do have, unfortunately, way too many children who are poisoned in Maine, and so needlessly.”

The plan, she said, will be three-pronged: identifying kids most at risk, ensuring children who are poisoned get treatment and the source of lead is eliminated and, primarily, making sure at-risk homes are lead-safe.

“Unless we focus on primary prevention, we’ll always be having to ensure adequate treatment,” Mills said.

Included in the draft elimination plan, by January 2006:

• The Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program will identify high-risk geographic areas and population groups.

• Strategic partners will identify ways that communities are affected by lead hazards (costs-benefits.)

By January 2007:

• The number of children with blood lead levels above 20 parts per deciliter will be zero.

By January 2008:

• Strategic partners will perform alternative analyses for products that contain lead: plumbing fixtures, wiring, vinyl windows, computer cables, ammunition, solder, flashing and nonresidential lead paint.

By January 2009:

• Adequate laws will be in place to enforce lead safety in rental units.

• All lead-poisoned children will receive long-term, follow-up assessments and interventions through the school system and developmental service agencies.

• The state system for immunization registration will include blood lead screening information.

Mills said passage of a $3 million bond this fall would get a jump on cleaning lead out of homes here. She said homes would be made “lead-safe” with the money, different from the more-stringent guidelines followed with Housing and Urban Development grant funds, so the money could go farther.

“It’s a lot less costly, we can do a lot more homes and protect more children,” she said.

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