Notre Dame fire: 250 tons of lead gone up in smoke and in the lungs of Parisians?

Could the catastrophic fire on the roof of Notre Dame cathedral and its spire also have an impact on the health of Parisians? If the figures relating to the materials used for the roof and the spire are correct, 250 tonnes of lead went up in smoke. This smoke was breathed in by the Parisians who were downwind and the heavy particles fell somewhere: in the streets, in the parks, on the roofs, in the interiors of the dwellings. The problem is that the exposure lead, even punctually and in low doses, can cause health effects. Without being alarmist, a brief summary of the effects of lead on health is in order.

250 tons of lead went up in smoke above Paris

The spire of Notre Dame cathedral, made in 1860 by the architect Viollet-le Duc, was made of 500 tons of oak and 250 tons of lead. Lead is a material that has been widely used in construction due to its resistance to erosion and ease of handling. Lead poisoning, called lead poisoning was already known to the Romans, it only occurs in the event of chronic exposure.

But lead does not enter the body only by absorption through the digestive tract, through contaminated water or food. You can also be contaminated by inhalation, by breathing in fumes that contain vaporized lead. The vaporization point of lead, ie the temperature at which it goes up in smoke is 500°. During the gigantic fire on the roof of Notre Dame, the temperature in the heart of the blaze must have greatly exceeded this point. From there to think that the fumes that escaped from the fire were loaded with 250 tons of lead… there is only one step. Fortunately, the exposure of Parisians was punctual, it is not up to the exposure of workers in industry who are exposed daily to this metal.

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Health Effects of Lead Exposure

The following information on the dangers of lead can be found on the INRS website:

Lead can enter the body through the nose (dust, fumes) or the mouth (dirty hands, contaminated food). However, it does not pass through the skin. It causes serious diseases by accumulating in the body, particularly in the bones, where it can remain for several decades. It fades very slowly.

The effects of lead are:

– at the level of the nervous system: mood and memory disorders, deterioration of intellectual capacities, damage to peripheral motor nerves;

– in the kidneys: disturbance of elimination functions, chronic renal failure;

  • – in the blood: decrease in the number of red blood cells (anemia);
  • – in the digestive system: lead colic (abdominal pain);

others: hepatic, endocrine…

Lead can also be responsible for reproductive abnormalities:

in women: effects on pregnancy (abortion, premature delivery, etc.)

in men: impaired sperm production.

The effects on children

Children are particularly sensitive to lead poisoning, which can result in effects on the central nervous system, all the more important as the subject is young, with clinical signs that can be serious behavioral disorders, mental retardation …).

A mother with a high amount of lead in her body will pass it on to her child during pregnancy and then through breastfeeding, which can cause a delay in the child’s psychomotor and mental development.

Lead in the body can be detected with a blood test and other tests that your doctor may order if in doubt.


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* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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