A new complication has popped up during the ongoing repairs to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was terribly damaged by fire in April. It should be noted that the roof and spire of Notre Dame had significant amounts of lead in the construction materials. When they burned, the melted lead scattered on the ground and may have begun contaminating the immediate surroundings.

Health authorities in France are now calling for young children and pregnant women resident in Paris, especially close to Notre Dame, to immediately have themselves checked for possible lead content in their bloodstream, fearing that some of the cathedral’s materials have become scattered toxic agents.

Potentially toxic lead spreads from cathedral

Yahoo News reports that the French regional health agency ARS, which covers Paris, was alarmed following the discovery of a Parisian child with a dangerously high amount of blood lead, over the acceptable limit of 50 micrograms per liter. By Tuesday, June 4, there have been free tests for lead content in the bloodstream being given by health officials to residents of the Ile de la Cite where Notre Dame stands. Special attention was being given to young children and pregnant women who would be the most profoundly affected by possible lead poisoning.

The prime suspect as to where the lead may have come from is the Notre Dame Cathedral, which had lead built into its roof and the 19th Century Spire.

The destruction of the spire during the April fire, caught on cameras, had been heartbreaking for Parisians. But only around this time did concerns materialize concerning the melted lead from the cathedral. Previous tests conducted by the Paris police lab determined that toxic lead particles did not become airborne, but trace amounts of the metal were located on the streets and many standing structures.

Environmental groups weigh in

The BBC adds that the estimated total amount of lead material that was caught in the Notre Dame Cathedral fire months ago would add up to 300 tons. This was brought up by Robin des Bois, an environmental organization based in France. Residents of Paris had been advised by the authorities to wipe off the dust from their buildings to remove lead particles that may have clung to them.

Robin des Bois has also called on the reconstruction efforts for Notre Dame, to perform a lead “decontamination” of the landmark before they continue restoring the cathedral to how it was before.

Lead poisoning is extremely dangerous due to how its toxic effects are able to damage multiple systems of the body at the same time. The nervous system and kidneys are especially vulnerable. It is therefore understandable that Paris is taking all necessary precautions following the fire that damaged Notre Dame.