YOOTEST has already published several articles to provide information on the dangers for Parisians of lead exposure released by the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral. The combustion of the spire and roof of the historic building produced lead pollution of the environment nearby and over several kilometres. The news site Médiapart alerts on a new "health scandal".
What are the facts indicating a risk of lead poisoning for Notre-Dame's neighbours?
The smoke from the fire dispersed over western Paris and deposited several tonnes of lead-contaminated soot particles. The buildings on Ile de la Cité were hit first, in particular the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, the premises of the Préfecture de Police de Paris and the Palais de Justice de Paris. These particles have fallen back and polluted the soil and the interior of buildings: apartments, offices, shops, hotels...
In the days following the fire, residents were invited by the Paris Police Department to clean the inside of their homes with damp rags in order to eliminate lead-contaminated dust. Indeed, measurements carried out inside Notre-Dame and in the direct vicinity of the cathedral revealed rates well above the alert thresholds (400 to 700 times the reference thresholds according to Mediapart).
In addition, a child living near the cathedral and with a blood lead level above 50 µg/L was reported to health authorities. Following this report, the French health authorities recommended screening people living near Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Finally, the Paris City Hall announced that a thorough cleaning of the day-nurseries and schools located near the fire zone would be carried out during the summer.
However, the health authorities are reassuring and indicate that the risks of intoxication are "limited and acceptable". However, this risk is not excluded for the inhabitants of the dwellings and the occupants of the premises affected by the smoke from the Notre-Dame fire.
How to limit its lead poisoning for the residents of the neighbourhoods affected by the Notre-Dame fire?
The first thing to do is to perform a thorough cleaning using a damp cloth. It is very important to clean children's rooms as a priority because they are more sensitive to lead exposure and can also ingest dust deposited on toys. The cleaning recommended by the authorities makes it possible to eliminate part of the contamination.
Soot from a fire is more difficult to eliminate. The fine particles contained in soot are sticky and very persistent in the indoor environment. Depending on the level of pollution, the situation may require the intervention of experts and professionals in decontamination.
The use of a vacuum cleaner equipped with a new HEPA filter eliminates an additional part of the pollution in an apartment or office.
All these cleaning operations must be carried out regularly for several weeks after the fire.
In addition to cleaning, an air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter captures fine soot particles contaminated with lead and limits their presence in indoor air.
Why test your apartment or office for lead pollution?
The health effects of lead are multiple and well known even at low doses. The health risks of lead exposure are higher for fetuses, newborns and young children. The main health effects are neurological, renal and blood disorders. In children, growth and mental retardation problems have been observed for lead levels below 100 µg/L.
We breathe about 12 kg of air daily compared to 1 kg of food and 2 kg of water. We spend about 7 hours at work and more than 10 hours in our accommodation, which is more than 75% of our time in a building. The quality of the air we breathe in residential and office buildings is therefore an essential parameter of our good health.
Living in a lead-contaminated environment can therefore have serious health consequences. Monitoring the level of lead pollution is therefore essential to prevent health risks.
To find out if you are exposed to lead, a blood lead test (blood lead) can be prescribed by a doctor. The threshold should be as low as possible and health effects are observed from 50 µg/L blood in children and 100 µg/L blood in adults.
How do I know if my apartment or office is contaminated with lead?
Even if you have cleaned your apartment or offices, there may still be lead left that pollutes indoor air and exposes occupants to residues of this toxic metal. Analyzing lead in the dust of your home allows you to accurately measure the level of contamination and take action to reduce lead pollution.
The diagnosis of lead in buildings provides an indication of whether the level of pollution is acceptable to occupy the place for a long period of time and whether cleaning and decontamination has been effective in removing lead pollution.
YOOTEST offers a test kit to control the level of lead pollution in the dust of an apartment or office. The dust sample is analyzed in a certified laboratory. Your results are presented in a report and compared to the WHO threshold value of 0.5 µg/m3 and the quality objective of 0.25 µg/m3.