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25 Jul, 2019 09:59

Schools near burnt-out Notre Dame closed over lead poisoning fears

Schools near burnt-out Notre Dame closed over lead poisoning fears

A kindergarten and a primary school in the center of Paris have been closed as “a precautionary measure” after elevated levels of lead dust were found, believed to have come from the fire in Notre Dame cathedral on April 15.

Several hundred tons of lead contained within the roof and the building's iconic spire were melted during the April inferno. Europe is currently undergoing a major heatwave and experts fear the blaze-damaged roof of the cathedral may now collapse if temperatures remain elevated.

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The closure of the two schools marks a complete u-turn from comments made by the French capital’s city hall last week, in which it said the risk of lead exposure to local schools was “no cause for concern.”

The Regional Health Agency discovered 5,000 micrograms of lead per square metre on the walls of the upper floors of buildings in the area surrounding the damaged cathedral, including the two schools, which have been operating as summer camps for young children during the summer months. For comparison the US Environmental Protection Agency’s lead standard is just 39 micrograms per square foot.

The playground of one of the schools was found to have elevated levels of lead dust, and has subsequently been cleaned. New samples are due to be taken on Friday.

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