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Health danger from Notre-Dame fire kept from public, lawsuit claims

Parisian authorities are facing legal action over the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral, due to the release of harmful fumes from lead destroyed in the fire.

A number of people filed a lawsuit on Tuesday regarding the health impact of the fire which destroyed the roof and spire of the iconic landmark in central Paris on 15 April 2019.

AFP have seen documents filed by the plaintiffs, which include the CGT-Paris trade union, the Henri Pézerat association and private individuals.

“More than 400 tonnes of lead were destroyed during the fire, partly melted or pulverised into micro-particles, which were disseminated in the atmosphere,” the complaint reads.

They say the danger to health from this is not in doubt, with reports from official bodies studying pollution supporting this.

“Despite the scale of the fire and the knowledge of the risks of pollution and contamination…no particular precautions were taken by the authorities concerned (Ministry of Culture, Regional Health Agency and Police Headquarters) for more than three months after the fire”, they write.

They claim Paris City Council “deliberately kept the directors of schools and nurseries located in the vicinity of the cathedral in the dark by refraining from communicating on the reality of lead pollution in this area”.

Furthermore they say the authorities kept results from dust samples from the public for more than two months.

“Children (in nurseries and schools), local residents and workers (in the neighbourhood and in the cathedral) were clearly exposed to the dangers of lead exposure” they say, which constitute the offence of endangering others.

Another complaint, also for “endangering the lives of others”, was filed in April by the Robin des Bois association.

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