The Health Risks Of The Notre-Dame Fire
Start writing a post

As Paris Rebuilds Notre Dame, The Fire's Slow-Burning Health Risks Still Need Attention

It's been five months since the destructive fire that broke the world's heart, but as more information comes out, it is becoming apparent that peoples' health could still be very much at risk.

As Paris Rebuilds Notre Dame, The Fire's Slow-Burning Health Risks Still Need Attention

Instead of throwing an elaborate party for my 16th birthday, I decided I would rather go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with my mother to Paris, France, and spend a week being entranced by the city's majestic architecture and culture.

That very first day, after getting off the plane and making it through customs, my mom and I dropped our bags off at the hotel and took the little over one-and-a-half-mile walk to get to the cathedral that had been one of my most anticipated sights of the trip.

And there she stood, tall and proud, as she had since being completed in 1345. A stone masterpiece with a gorgeous medieval latticework roof straight from the Middle Ages. There were people streaming in and out of the large gothic cathedral and a line that wrapped around the side. It was overwhelming to stand there and take it all in.

Notre-Dame 2/19/17Emma Ralls

That was why my heart broke when I heard the horrible news on April 15. It was hard to process that the structure that had welcomed me to the country I had so quickly fallen in love with had caught fire. I remember how my heart sank when I saw the devastating picture of the glorious building, a cloud of smoke and angry orange flames dancing along the roof. It was devastating.

Mere hours after the fire began to wreak havoc some of the damage was already clear to see. The fire destroyed most of the historic oak and lead roof, some stain glass windows, the wooden interior frame, and ultimately the iconic 750-ton spire. The entire world seemed to hold its breath over the hours it took for the fire to be contained and extinguished.

A couple of days after the fire was extinguished, news came out that some of the most famous artifacts — the well-known rose windows, stone gargoyles, and other priceless relics — were spared from the harsh flames that seemed to destroy so much. A little under a month later, the French senate passed a bill stating Notre Dame had to be rebuilt exactly as it was. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, even pledged to complete the reconstruction of Notre Dame within five years.

Since these announcements, we have gotten minimal updates about the progress and state of the cathedral in the news. In fact, it had been such a long time since I had heard any information, I took it upon myself to Google the advancements on Notre Dame and what I saw shocked me.

Instead of a positive update on the rebuilding of Notre-Dame, I was greeted with headlines like "Notre Dame's Toxic Fallout" from The New York Times, "460 Tons Of Lead Burned During Notre Dame Fire Posing Public Health Risk" from Axios, and maybe most devastatingly "Toxic Fallout from the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire May have Exposed 6,00 children to unsafe levels of lead" from Insider, among many more.

Each article essentially said the same thing: that the dust and debris from the fire could pose a major health threat for a large amount of Parisians. This toxic cloud from the burning roof had a very high lead content and may be a large health risk to exposed schools, daycares, parks, and other highly trafficked Paris sites in the area surrounding Notre Dame, causing an increase in anxiety.

The issue many people are having is that there may be evidence that the French authorities knew about this early on and did little to inform the public. Through a New York Times Investigation, "French authorities had indications that lead exposure could be a grave problem within 48 hours of the fire," yet it was a month before a lead test was conducted at any of the at-risk schools. Still, to this day, not every school has been tested.

These tests came back showing lead levels above the regulatory level in France. Several of these exposed buildings house children like primary schools and daycares, which has led to an increased state of anxiety in parents and day-to-day city-goers. Not only that, but in public forums like plazas and streets, the amount of lead found was determined to be 60 times over the safety standard. Much criticism is being leveled at the French authorities. According to The New York Times, "The authorities failed to clean the entire area in the immediate aftermath of the fire and waited four months to finish a full decontamination of the neighborhood."

The dangerously high amount of lead, which is especially dangerous to children under the age of 6 and pregnant women, is causing health experts to caution and even recommend avoiding bringing children into the vicinity of the Notre Dame cathedral area. However, it has been determined that the high levels weren't solely from the Cathedral fire and some of the lead may be part of an ongoing general issue Paris is facing with rising levels of lead in the city.

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web
Report this Content

Biden's Inauguration Signals A Time Of Healing After A Dark And Painful Period

Joe Biden's inauguration marks the beginning of a time of healing for America.


The day finally arrived. Joe Biden has been inaugurated and is now the 46th president of the United States of America. Kamala Harris has been sworn in as our country's new vice president. She is the first woman and the first person of color to fill the role. After years of fighting, frustration, and fear, this is a day of celebration. It's a day of hope as we look to the future. It's also a day of healing, as our collective wounds are still very fresh.

Keep Reading... Show less

Victory For LGBTQ Americans As The US Gains 6 New LGBTQ Government Representatives

Regardless of who is president, let's celebrate these huge victories for LGBTQ representation in various states' governments.


The presidential election was extremely stressful for us all, causing us to worry about who will win and what it means for the future. For many of us, this can mean the difference between life and death, especially for BIPOC and members of the LGBTQ communities who are at the mercy of homophobes and racists — many of whom are proud supporters of the color orange.

Instead of worrying whether I'll be sent to a conversion camp next year or not, I'd rather celebrate the much bigger and more important wins. There have been six representatives added to state governments this past election who are all a part of the LGBTQ community.

Keep Reading... Show less

Who Said It — Donald Trump Or A Villain From The Avatar Universe?

A hilarious and frightening game of who said it: Donald J. Trump or a villain from "Avatar: The Last Airbender" or "The Legend of Korra."

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons; Nickelodeon

Have fun guessing whether outgoing President of the United States Donald J. Trump or a literal anime villain said each of these 26 quotes. To keep the answers a surprise (not being able to see the answer right below the quote), I will have all of the answers at the bottom of the page.

Keep Reading... Show less

Scotland Is The First Country To Make Menstrual Products Free, And The Rest Of The World Should Follow

The idea that they are a "luxury" that should be paid for (and taxed) is absurd because nobody chooses to have a period.


Scotland recently became the first country in the world to make menstrual products free to anyone that needs them, and the rest of the world needs to follow their lead. It is honestly sad that in the year 2020, there is only one nation that has passed a law to make period products free. The idea that they are a "luxury" that should be paid for (and taxed) is absurd because nobody chooses to have a period. It should not be seen as a luxury to have access to products that are a basic necessity.

Keep Reading... Show less

Candace Owens' Backwards Ideas Are Causing Damage, Not Harry Styles Wearing A Dress

Candace Owens thinks men wearing dresses are damaging to civilization, but it's her ideas that are the problem.


Androgyny is something that has always been part of culture. Since the beginning of time, gender expression has always been varied and expansive. However, as time went on, society forced particular roles onto certain genders. These sorts of gender roles have caused many to rebel against them, including artists and rock stars. Harry Styles seems to be the next one in line to rebel in this way.

Keep Reading... Show less

​If You Have An Issue With Harry Styles Wearing A Dress, This Is For You

Harry Styles, the first male to appear solo on the cover of Vogue in American history should be something celebrated, not denounced.


Harry Styles has consistently been catapulted into stardom for countless reasons such as, but not limited to: being an amazing artist and an all-around phenomenal human to admire. Renowned for leading his platform through kindness, acceptance, love, and self-expression. It is not a secret to anyone that follows Harry Styles that he upholds an eccentric sense of fashion. Harry Styles is a mogul for shifting the traditional gender fashion roles towards a more gender-neutral normative fashion. He leads this by rocking whatever fashion he wishes to express himself in and extending the same acceptance and kindness to others.

Keep Reading... Show less

Native Americans Might Have Been The Key To Turning Arizona Blue

Voter turnout hit records in this year's election, and it may have been the secret weapon for the Democrats.


The 2020 general election brought in more participants and voters than ever before, and in Arizona, an important chunk of the registered voter turnout was the Native community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments