Paris police have warned that the melted roof of Notre Dame Cathedral has left extremely high levels of lead in the square in front of the fire-damaged building and the roads around it, but added there was no danger of toxic inhalation.
“The analysis of the samples made since Notre Dame’s fire reveal that there is no risk related to lead ingestion from the air, but confirm the presence of lead dust in the immediate neighborhood of the cathedral,” the police said in a statement on Thursday.
The inferno that ripped through the Paris landmark in April melted 300 tons of lead from its roof and steeple, according to French environmental campaign group Robin des Bois.
In the square, which is still closed off, lead levels are 32 to 65 times above the safe limit of 0.3 grams per kilogram recommended by French health authorities. “Levels are really high, between 10 and 20 (grams per kilogram),” the statement added.
Police have warned that children under six and pregnant woman are the most susceptible to lead poisoning through “multiple” inhalations.
They have advised locals who frequent the area to regularly wash their hands. Nearby residents have also been told to use a wet mop or cloth to wipe down their apartments.
Soon after the devastating blaze, Robin des Bois warned in a statement, seen by AFP, that “the cathedral has been reduced to the state of toxic waste.” It called on French authorities to detoxify the tons of rubble, ash and wastewater produced by firefighters.
“Before launching a competition for the design of a new steeple, we should launch a competition to decontaminate what at the moment, alas, can be considered an industrial wasteland,” the group added.