Friday, January 17, 2020

Pollution from the Notre Dame Fire

The fire of the Notre-Dame de Paris was one of the most shocking events of 2019. The fire burned for around 15 hours and the cathedral suffered serious damage. Most of the lead-covered wooden roof was destroyed by the fire. 460 tonnes of lead were burnt, which resulted in toxic dust being blown over Paris. Where this dust settled has raised surface lead levels in certain areas.

The local health authority in Paris (ARS) has released an interactive map which shows the results of sampling the lead dust surface levels following the Notre Dame fire. Sante Graphie's Notre-Dame de Paris interactive map uses colored markers to show the sampled surface lead levels. The average surface lead levels in Paris streets are normally around five times the indoor legal limit (1000 μg/m2). On the map green markers show readings that are below 5000 μg/m2. The other colored markers show readings which are above the average street surface lead levels for Paris.

The smoke plumb caused by the fire stretched as far as Mantes-la-Jolie in the Yvelines. However, as you can see from the map, the surface lead readings have been strongest in areas closest to the fire. As a result of the map it is now believed that most contamination was caused by falling debris rather than distributed by the smoke from the fire. Several cleaning operations have taken place around the Notre Dame and the reconstruction site is being continually monitored for lead levels. This monitoring includes blood tests for lead levels in the people working on the cathedral's reconstruction.

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