Notre Dame Cathedral Fire Leads to Lead Exposure

By Lindsey Pytrykow

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The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught on fire earlier this year. Effects of the fire pose poisoning concerns for Paris inhabitants.

In addition to Notre Dame being a univeristy in Maryland, the name has a history all over the world. Last year, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire. However, the damages of the fire go far beyond the building and artifacts inside.

According to USA Today, the scorching fire liquified an abundance of lead, which then impacted the community. The source of the lead was from inside of the Cathedrals roof and spire. The fallout of lead particles was wide-spread and affected citizens’ homes, jobs, and even schools in the area. Tamar Lapin, from the New York Post, states that dozens of buildings “had 60 times the acceptable levels of lead.” Since the debris travelled such a wide distance, officials suggested that everyone in the area, especially children and those who are pregnant, be tested for lead poisoning.

Although the government recommended tests, James Glanz and Elian Peltier from the New York Times reported that “the authorities waited a month before conducting the first lead tests in nearby public schools”. Children are one of the most at-risk groups for conducting lead poisoning over an extended exposure time.

Finally, three months after lead poisoning dangers arose, tests were administered to other surrounding buildings. After the examinations, France 24 updated the public with the tragic news that “levels of lead remain exceptionally high at some spots”. At that point, officials arranged for thorough cleaning of neighboring schools. However, Time magazine expressed concerns in July when the plan to clean was brought to a screeching halt. After this was discovered, they visited the site wearing disposable clothing to avoid the high level of lead.

The Guardian posted an article informing the public that clean-up crews began decontamination. Although officials tried to deal with the consequences of the fire, Paris residents are still coping with the affects.

One of NDMU’s school Sisters, Sister Margaret Mahoney, explains that the School Sisters of Notre Dame are not stationed in France. Even though NDMU has not directly helped with restoration or decontamination, community members, like business major Maura Leonard, still felt the effects of the fire. Although she has not personally visited the Cathedral, she felt “sorrow and grief” when she realized something so important can be taken away.

Photo Courtesy PhotosForClass.com

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