Police advise cleaning dust with wet wipes after tests find particles of toxic metal released by cathedral fire
Neighbours of the fire-stricken Notre Dame cathedral have been advised to use wet wipes to clean surfaces where lead-laden dust from the blaze may have settled.
Tests have shown that the devastating 15 April fire released particles of the toxic metal that had been present in the frame of the church and its now-levelled spire, Paris police have said.
Investigators found lead in areas near the church, “very localised” and “notably on premises that may have been standing open at the time of the fire, and where dust had settled”.
The threat was limited, the police noted, as lead poisoning usually builds up over years of exposure. There have been no reports of acute lead poisoning since the inferno that destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old landmark.
“With regard to homes or private premises, it is recommended that residents in the immediate vicinity of the Notre Dame proceed to clean their home or premises and their furniture and other items, using wet wipes to eliminate any dust,” the police statement said.
Public areas that may pose a lead exposure risk, such as the gardens around the cathedral, have been closed and will not be reopened until lead levels are back to normal, the police added.
Last week, the French environmental campaign group Robin des Bois said about 300 tonnes of lead from the cathedral’s roof and steeple had melted in the blaze, which officials said had reached 800C at its peak.
“The cathedral has been reduced to the state of toxic waste,” the association said in a statement, urging authorities to detoxify the tonnes of rubble, ash and wastewater produced in the disaster.
Airparif, which monitors air quality in Paris, said pollution did not exceed normal levels the day after the fire. Nearly two weeks later, a police cordon is still keeping members of the public well away from the site.