Notre-Dame de Paris: An Update on ‘Fear of Lead Intoxication’ and Restoration

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Notre-Dame de Paris, the iconic cathedral suffered serious damages due to fire on 15 April 2019. The spire was destroyed and the structure considerably weakened due to flames that raged for hours. Some amount of lead volatilized and deposited in the surrounding areas. This had given rise to suspicion of intoxication.  

Notre-Dame de Paris

A recent study investigated the blood lead levels of adults in Paris. The findings published recently support the view that blood lead levels of adults living and working in the vicinity of the cathedral did not increase as a result of fire thus putting aside the fear of intoxication (1).  

Listed as World Heritage site of UNESCO, Notre-Dame was built originally in 12th century and was modified and restored in 18th and 19th century respectively. Its history is closely associated with history of France and is symbol of Christian faith in Paris over long period of time (2) .  

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Post-fire restoration of Notre-Dame entail issues relating to material science, structural integrity, fire safety and preservation ethics (3) . In July 2020 interview, the director of Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH) mentioned ‘damage assessment’ as the main task. The basis of restoration was the status of the cathedral after the fire (4) . A working group is is preparing a “digital twin” (an information system that brings together all technical and scientific data of Notre-Dame cathedral on a digital platform. The data from 3D scan conducted earlier before the fire tragedy would come handy (5)

The restoration work continues with collaborative efforts of experts from various fields (6). By now, all the burnt scaffolding surrounding the cathedral has been removed. The Grand Organ has been dismantled and removed. The next phase of reconstruction is in progress. The restoration work along with organ reassembly and tuning is estimated to be completed by April 2024 (7).  

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Source(s): 

  1. Vallée A., Sorbets E., 2020. The lead story of the fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral of Paris. Environmental Pollution Volume 269, 15 January 2021, 1161 40. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.116140         
  1. Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, 2020. History. Available online at https://www.notredamedeparis.fr/decouvrir/histoire/ Accessed on 30 December 2020.  
  1. Praticò, Y., Ochsendorf, J., Holzer, S. et al. Post-fire restoration of historic buildings and implications for Notre-Dame de Paris. Nat. Mater. 19, 817–820 (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-020-0748-y  
  1. Li, X. Diagnosing Notre-Dame after fire. Nat. Mater. 19, 821–822 (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-020-0749-x      
  1. Veyrieras  J., 2019. A Digital Twin for Notre-Dame.  https://news.cnrs.fr/articles/a-digital-twin-for-notre-dame 
  1. Lesté-Lasserre C., 2020. Scientists are leading Notre Dame’s restoration—and probing mysteries laid bare by its devastating fire. Science Magazine News Mar. 12, 2020. Available online at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/scientists-are-leading-notre-dame-s-restoration-and-probing-mysteries-laid-bare-its     
  1. Notre-dame De Paris Reconstruction PROGRESS https://www.friendsofnotredamedeparis.org/reconstruction-progress/    

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