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Astronomical levels of lead have been detected around Notre-Dame Cathedral

Ashley Collman , Business Insider US
 May 09, 2019, 07:18 PM
Firefighters douse flames billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.
HOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

  • Police in Paris released a statement on Thursday, saying that astronomically high levels of lead have been recorded in and around Notre-Dame Cathedral following last month's fire.
  • Authorities said the areas where the high lead levels were recorded remain closed and that the general public is not at risk of exposure.
  • It's estimated that 300 tons of lead from the cathedral's roof and spire burned in the devastating blaze.
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Notre Dame Cathedral's melted roof has left astronomically high lead levels in the plaza outside and adjacent roads.

Paris police said Thursday that lead levels from the roof were found to be between 10 and 20 grams per kilogram of ground - between 32 and 65 times the recommended limit by French health authorities of 0.3 grams per kilogram. The areas closest to the cathedral are currently closed.

The statement said the main danger is lead dust that could coat surfaces of nearby homes and businesses.

It's estimated that 300 tons of lead from the church's roof and spire burned in the blaze. The cathedral is seen above just a few hours before the fire on April 15.

To avoid lead poisoning, authorities have recommended a good cleaning with a damp cloth, and that pregnant women and children wash hands frequently.

The statement said there was no risk of inhaling the lead, and that high lead levels have not been found outside of the immediate area surrounding the church. That area will remain closed until the lead levels decrease.

The police also said that lead poisoning usually happens over years of exposure and that no one has reported acute lead poisoning since the fire two weeks ago.

Last week, the French environmental group Robin de Bois said about 300 tonnes of lead from the church's roof and spire had melted in the blaze, according to The Guardian.

Shortly after the fire, the group said the cathedral had been reduced to a "state of toxic waste."

They are planning another press conference on Friday to reiterate their concerns about the environmental impact the fire has caused, specifically how it relates to locals' health and the water quality in the nearby Seine River.

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