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POLLUTION

Paris parents warned over possible health risks at 30 creches built on polluted ground

Thirty creches in the Paris region are built on polluted land which could put the health of the children that visit them at risk, a French NGO has warned.

Paris parents warned over possible health risks at 30 creches built on polluted ground
Photo: AFP
French NGO the Robin Hood association published the worrying information after the problem was exposed as part of an investigation carried out by the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research. 
 
Out of the 40 creches investigated in Paris it was found that 30 posed a potential health risk with evidence of lead, mercury, benzene and trichlorethylene pollution, reported Le Monde
 
Of the 30, 21 of the creches were classified as category B meaning that the situation should be monitored. 
 
More worryingly, nine of them were placed in category C signifying that action should be taken.
 
“The presence of pollution requires the implementation of technical management measures, or even sanitary measures,” said the report. 
 
The results of the study, which was conducted off the back of a national campaign launched in 2013, have until now remained confidential. 
 
But the Robin Hood association felt it was information the public and parents had a right to know. 
 
“Before being a residential city, Paris has long been an industrial city,” said Jacky Bonnemains, spokesperson for the association.
 
“The factories closed in the 1930s or the 1980s at a time when environmental protection was more rudimentary than today. Basements and groundwater could be permanently contaminated by their activity, leaving the buildings that succeeded them at risk of contamination,” he said.
 
“The results of the investigation were never really communicated. We wanted to get them out there so that parents would be informed,” Bonnemains added. 
 
What risk does it pose?
 
Opinion is divided over how dangerous the risks are for young children. 
 
“Pollutants have impacts on the development of the brain, the nervous system and the skeleton and can have delayed effects on reproductive capacity,” said the guide published by the association.
 
However Paris City Council has said “the expertise conducted with the Regional Health Agency have shown that there is no danger to the health of children or staff.”
 
“There is no danger for children, you have to understand that if there was the slightest danger, we would have taken precautions”, said Sandrine Charnoz from Paris City Hall in an interview with BFMTV
 
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POLLUTION

Paris faces legal claim over lead pollution from Notre-Dame fire

Paris authorities have been accused of failing to safeguard the health of people living near Notre-Dame cathedral due to lead pollution from a devastating fire two years ago.

Paris faces legal claim over lead pollution from Notre-Dame fire
A complaint has been lodged over lead pollution in Paris from the devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral Photo: Fabien Barrau | AFP

Local families along with the Paris branch of the CGT trade union and the anti-pollution association Henri Pezerat, have filed the legal complaint alleging city and public health authorities endangered lives.

“Despite the scale of the fire and knowledge about the risk of pollution and contamination… no precaution in particular was taken by the authorities involved for more than three months after the fire,” according to a copy of the complaint seen by AFP.

It says 400 tonnes of lead from the roof of the Gothic masterpiece melted or were dispersed as microparticles over the French capital during the blaze on April 15, 2019.

“Children (in crèches and schools), neighbours and workers have clearly been exposed to the risk of lead” pollution, the complaint adds. “These facts amount to the crime of endangering the lives of others.”

The square in front of the cathedral was closed again to the public in May this year after tests revealed high concentrations of toxic lead particles.

Several months after the fire, city authorities ordered a deep-clean of schools in the area, while children and pregnant women were urged to have blood tests.

The complaint says the city withheld information from school directors and failed to act promptly. It also targets the police department, the culture ministry and regional health authorities.

The efforts of firefighters ensured the great medieval edifice survived the fire despite the collapse of the spire and much of the roof being destroyed.

But the lead risks delayed work on clearing debris and launching the restoration effort for the landmark, which President Emmanuel Macron wants open for visitors in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, but they have said an accident, possibly caused by a short circuit or discarded cigarette butt, remains the most likely explanation.

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