Workers remove cedar shingles, coated with lead-based paint in this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo. Credit: Gabor Degre

LEWISTON, Maine — The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition says more children are being deemed to suffer from lead poisoning under a new standard.

State childhood lead poisoning rates from the past year, compiled by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, identified 322 children.

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Greg Payne from the housing coalition told the Sun Journal on Thursday that 297 of the children would not have been considered poisoned under Maine’s previous standard, which shifted to more stringent guidelines in 2016.

A new lead abatement program was announced Thursday’s news conference. Payne says the $4 million program will ensure the removal of lead from another 200 houses across the state.

State Rep. Jared Golden, the legislation’s sponsor and a congressional candidate, said the program will save taxpayers money by preventing developmental disabilities in children.