Another Paris school closed over lead levels after Notre-Dame fire

One school courtyard was sprayed with a lead-absorbing gel after tests on lead levels (AFP Photo/Martin BUREAU)

Paris (AFP) - A sixth school in Paris has been closed after tests found lead levels above alert thresholds, a source told AFP on Wednesday, as officials continue to monitor for the toxic metal after April's fire at Notre-Dame cathedral.

But five schools that were closed earlier this week because of lead risks will reopen Thursday after new tests, city education officials said.

The schools were downwind from the huge fire that destroyed the roof and steeple of the gothic masterpiece, melting hundreds of tonnes of lead that later settled well beyond the church grounds.

While the authorities tested and cleaned dozens of public schools before the start of the new term this week, the closed schools are privately operated, and officials deemed their initial testing insufficient.

Around 260 children attending schools close to Notre-Dame have had blood tests for lead since the April 15 blaze, though only three have revealed high levels, and health officials have not been able to make a clear link to the fire.

But some residents have accused the Paris authorities of underplaying the risk, saying they were focussed instead on trying to keep the 13th-century monument from collapsing.

Work at the gutted monument was halted on July 25 for three weeks after officials found that anti-contamination measures were insufficient to keep the lead from spreading.

Efforts to secure the structure are still underway, and the actual restoration work might not begin until next year.

President Emmanuel Macron has set an ambitious target of five years for the restoration to be finished.