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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 16:23 GMT
Cathedral staff 'allergic' to chemicals
St Paul's Cathedral
The internal restoration will cost 10.8m
Staff who have complained of sickness and sore throats at St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London are worried that the restoration process is to blame.

Centuries of dirt have built up on the Portland Stone which lines the interior of the cathedral.

But some members of staff have said they are worried that the chemicals used in the cleaning process are causing allergic reactions.

The cathedral authorities say the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to make checks but they are confident the process is safe.

Inside St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's has hosted many state occasions

The 10m interior restoration project began in May 2001 and is due to be completed in 2005.

The cleaning process involves spraying a paste on to the stonework.

It is left for 24 hours and then peeled off, lifting the dirt with it.

But the mixture includes latex, a fluid from the Brazilian rubber tree, which can cause allergic reactions.

The areas being cleaned are screened off by plastic sheeting, but staff fear fumes have leaked into the rest of the building.

Roger Milne, the cathedral's registrar, told BBC News Online that the whole project had been monitored from the start.

'Triple check'

He said some staff had complained but checks had found nothing wrong.

"The HSE has been involved with the process throughout", he said.

"They have recently been asked to come in and triple check."

Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design the cathedral in 1668, two years after the Great Fire of London destroyed the old St Paul's.

After delays because of problems with the architect's plans the building was finally completed in 1710.


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See also:

12 Feb 02 | England
03 Dec 97 | St Pauls Cathedral
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