In April 2019, a horrible conflagration engulfed Notre-Dame de Paris. The building's spire collapsed, and most of its roof was destroyed. The experts are trying hard to renovate it, but soon after, they discovered something disturbing.
1. Recap The Horrifying Events
On 15 April 2019, a structural fire broke out beneath the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. In the beginning, staff were unable to locate the source of the flames. However, an electrical issue was the spark that saw flames tear through the roof of the building. We can't even imagine how hard it will be for the experts to repair it.
2. Start A Mammoth Undertaking
After the fire, the restoration experts began to pick their way through the shell of Notre-Dame, clad in helmets to protect against falling debris. They are instructing construction workers on how best to rebuild the church according to their research. However, they didn't expect such a dangerous discovery.
3. Release Toxic Lead
The awful truth is that when the roof of the cathedral burned, great quantities of toxic lead melted and was released into the atmosphere. Lead is poisonous and will cause numerous physical and neurological problems, such as infertility, seizures, and even death. Shockingly, though, the terrible substance has yet to be traced.
4. Decline To Warn The Public
Although many Parisians worried that lead from the cathedral might have contaminated the surrounding areas, it was said that the blaze hadn't reached the temperatures necessary to reduce the material to gas. Hence, officials declined to warn the public and deceived citizens. However, a far more sinister story was playing out behind the scenes.
5. Create An Aerosol Effect
Some witnesses had spotted a yellow haze forming over Notre-Dame when the fire raged below. According to some scientists, the inferno did exceed the temperatures that allowed the lead to combine with oxygen, essentially creating an aerosol effect. So, it's clear that a portion of toxic material did contaminate the atmosphere around Paris. But where did it go?
6. Exceeded Recommended Lead Levels
Worryingly, authorities didn't test the lead content of the surrounding area until several weeks later. Afterward, they discovered that many local schools contained significant levels of lead. Moreover, some recreational areas also had more than 60 times the recommended limit. But did the authorities truly know nothing in the beginning?
7. Conceal The Truth
According to a 2019 report by The New York Times, authorities already knew the risk within a couple of days of the disaster, but they failed to act. It's said that officials have since attempted to cover up the dangerous levels of these poisonous materials. Nevertheless, they cannot hide the fact forever.
8. Announce Some Worrying News
In September 2019, a French environmental organization announced some worrying news: the residents of an apartment one mile from Notre-Dame had asked for some lead tests at their property. Worryingly, the experts found levels of around 20 times the recommended limit on the balcony. Unfortunately, this was not the only case.
9. Recognize A Serious Problem
Additionally, at a Paris police station, the lead content was eight times the legal limit. In a 2019 interview with The Daily Telegraph, union representative Frédéric Guillo explained his concerns: "It proves once again that the lead contamination caused by the Notre-Dame fire is a serious, long-term problem that authorities need to protect their citizens from."
10. Discover The Ground Zero For The Leak
On further investigation, it confirmed that Notre-Dame was the ground zero for this toxic leak. The scientists have detected traces of the poisonous material throughout the cathedral, even inside the pipe organ. However, another expert made an even more alarming discovery in the building.
11. Recognize Something Disturbing
In the ruins of Notre-Dame, wood specialist Emmanuel Maurin led a team to run tests on the surfaces of the oaken materials. There, they found the lead levels to be around 70 times the recommended limit. Even more disturbingly, people working in the cathedral immediately after the fire weren't even equipped with the proper precautionary clothing.
12. Follow Rigorous Decontamination Procedures
Thankfully, by March 2020, the researchers started to execute rigorous decontamination procedures. According to reports, they only stay two and a half hours inside the ruins each time. Also, these scientists would throw away their disposable garments and take a shower five times each day. However, they found the leak was not all due to the conflagration.
13. Contaminate The Region For Hundreds Of Years
Some people believe that Notre-Dame might have been releasing toxic lead into the environment for hundreds of years before the fire. The rainwater may have washed the material from the roof into the nearby River Seine. So, exactly how much of the poisonous materials can be traced back to the fire?
14. Plan To Do More Research
In fact, some other factors could also have affected the lead levels across Paris, including the use of gasoline and toxic paints. In an attempt to solve the mystery, scientist Sophie Ayrault plans to compare the samples taken at the cathedral to those gathered elsewhere in Paris. This vital work has yet to take place, though.
15. Find Ways Of Removing Lead Traces
Meanwhile, the experts have been busy trying to find ways of removing lead traces from Notre-Dame. They had some ideas like using a special putty to extract the toxic material and deploying lasers to cleanse the porous stones. However, even these smart scientists can never completely compensate for the effect of environmental pollution.
16. Leave A Far Darker Legacy
According to The Guardian's report back in April 2019, Macron promised that Notre-Dame would be rebuilt "more beautiful than before." However, it will never be the same. Besides, the toxic lead has leaked from the cathedral into Paris' parks and schools, so it seems that the fire will leave behind a far darker legacy.