Contamination From Fires



A striking example of soil contamination arising from fires is the reported finding of unsafe levels of lead in a number of Paris school playgrounds, following the disastrous fire at Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019.  The blaze reduced some 400 tonnes of lead in the roof structure into particles, which were released and dispersed – a quantity representing about four times the average total of lead released in France annually.  The Director of Research at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research was reported as describing levels of lead-laden dust as a “health time-bomb”.  The applicable safety limit for lead in France is 1,000 micrograms/square metre.  Some 82 children and pregnant women have had their blood tested so far.  Ten had levels requiring monitoring and one child had more than 50 micrograms of lead per litre of blood – a level regarded as lead poisoning.

Source: The Times, August 7, 2019

Text reference: 1-04

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