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04.06.2019 Europe

Child's blood sample shows spike in lead pollution following Notre-Dame blaze

By - RFI
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo
JUN 4, 2019 EUROPE
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Families with small children and pregnant women living in central Paris have been urged to undergo tests to detect levels of lead in their bloodstream, after high concentrations were found in a child in the wake of the 15 April blaze that gutted the Notre-Dame cathedral.

According to ARS, the Regional Health Agency for the greater Paris region (Ile-de-France), it has been monitoring the amount of lead in the atmosphere following the blaze. 

An environmental investigation has now been launched in the area where the child lives to identify the cause of the spike in lead exposure and ensure that it is not linked to any other factors, other than the cathedral fire. 

The level of lead in the child's blood was higher than the acceptable limit of 50 migrograms per litre. 

As of midday on Tuesday, residents of the capital's Ile de la Cité district can request a free test for the presence of lead in their system. And "as a precaution", families with children under the age of seven and pregnant women have been instructed to consult their general practitioner to identify and treat exposure to the lead pollution.

The Notre-Dame fire in April is at the origin of the lead pollution in and around the cathedral and neighbouring streets. 

Tests conducted in the immediate aftermath of the fire by the police laboratory unit concluded that there was no immediate risk to air quality, although polluted, but high levels of lead were found on nearby streets and in local buildings.

Once that was ascertained, the streets in question were closed to the public. The final clean-up operation is due to get underway in the coming days. 

The ARS has issued information to local residents about the clean-up and given advice on how to avoid ingesting lead dust while it is being carried out.

Later this week, the health agency is due to inform individual families of the results of the "scrubbing operation" and how to best ensure lead dust doesn't re-enter their homes.