We are planning a trip to France in May 2020 and would like to include Paris again. But I am concerned about the danger of lead from the Notre Dame fire in 2019. Does anyone have any information or sources of reliable data on this potential risk? Thank you!
The concern is about lead that might have been deposited on the ground and on buildings during the fire. My personal opinion:
Yes, lead compounds are chronically toxic in small doses, but you're talking about exposure over a lengthy period of time. The worry is about people who live and work in the surrounding area and could potentially suffer health effects over a period of years. I think for a brief trip to Paris you'd be fine. I wouldn't lick the pavement near the Cathedral, but I wouldn't have done that before the fire... I'd also avoid picking any wild berries that might be growing on green spaces nearby.
Isn't that kind of a reach for a concern? Even if there were lead based compounds that were vaporized because of the fire, they would have settled out on surrounding surfaces but the rains would have washed those compounds away since it would have been ash and dust. So casual contacted with lead based compounds would be practically zero. This would not be very high on my concern list.
NY Times Sept 14/24, 2019
All experts consulted by The Times said yes, though they differed on the level of precautions that should be taken.
Experts in France said that the risks from the lead were low, and advised against “paranoia.”
Businesses in the area of the cathedral have been cleaned. Eating a croque-monsieur at a restaurant on the Île de la Cité, where Notre-Dame sits, or drinking a glass of rosé on a restaurant terrace, is unlikely to result in lead contamination, French experts said.
Yet while no one suggested canceling a trip to Paris or, for residents, leaving the city, all the health experts consulted by The Times suggested a range of measures, out of prudence.
What precautions might I take?
Some experts recommended staying away from the immediate vicinity of Notre-Dame, particularly if you have children under 6.
The NY Times article “Notre-Dame’s Toxic Fallout” dated September 16, 2019 has some interesting graphics. At least on my iPad it does. Link is attached below. Note that the NY Times has In the past offered limited free access via the web. Something along the lines of X number of free articles per month.
By May 2020, I would say no impact whatsoever. All the outdoor lead will be washed away, and the indoor lead, brushed away. And the contamination was quite localize to start with anyway.
No impact on your visit . I was there in June , not glowing yet .
As stated there was never much risk to tourist even when it was first there , unless you were a child playing in the playground or ground then licking your hands , and since there have been many many rains it’s mostly all washed away . If concerned , wash your hands with soap and water before eating or touching your mouth or nose ( not just use sanitizing gel ) as soap and water will wash away any residue you might pick up by touching a surface - but as I said - most lead dust has been washed away .
Also casual one time exposures to small amount of lead dust is unlikely to have any severe or lasting affects