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Re: [ARSCLIST] Mold on open reel 1/4" audio tape


Utilizing the Conservation Online website (http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/), I searched the ARSCLIST Archives and came up with the following sound advice on dealing with moldy tapes. It was submitted by Peter Brothers,President,SPECS BROS., LLC.  

Do not try to clean moldy tape by multiple fast forward/rewind passes.  This does not work well with mold and can damage moldy tape.  Tapes with mold can often be suffering from other problems such as binder hydrolysis, binder-base adhesion failure and/or sections of the tape edge that are adhering between wraps due to action of the mold on the tape components where the mold is most active.
Here's some advice, if you want to try and treat the tape yourself:
First, to properly clean off mold, the mold must be driven into dormancy.  Attempts to wipe off active mold will often spread the contamination rather than removing it.  Dormancy can be achieved by placing the tape in an environment with low humidity for a few weeks.  We use an environmental chamber and reduce the RH to below 30%RH.
Second, the tape should be tested to determine if hydrolysis or binder-base adhesion failure is a problem.  If these are present, the tape should be treated to stabilize it before playback to avoid permanent damage to the recording layer.
It is important to always wear protective gear when handling or cleaning tapes with mold.  At the very least, you should wear latex gloves, a dust mask and some form of eye protection.  Mold can cause health problems that can be severe if someone is sensitive.  It is best to remove and clean all clothing worn during the mold removal process or to wear a smock that can be removed.  Do not hold or interact closely with small children after heavy mold exposure until you have washed any exposed skin and changed your outer clothes.  
To clean off the mold, non-dusting, non-abrasive tissue wipes can be used.  The entire surface of the tape, both front and back and head to tail, need to be wiped.  This will remove most of the flowering heads but will not remove all.  Frequently, chemical treatment is required.  You will also want to replace or chemically treat the reel.  
You can do a rough test for binder instability during early stages of the tissue wipe.  If you get a "waxy" residue or little "flakes" of tape come off on the tissues, you have a binder instability problem that may need to be addressed before continuing with the tissue wipe.
Of course, you can try these things yourself or you can send the tape to a facility that does this sort of work and has specialized equipment and technicians trained in the procedures.
Lance Watsky
Preservation & Media Specialist
The Georgia Archives
5800 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, GA 30260
678-364-3764 (phone)
678-364-3860 (fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Matt Bailey
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 5:02 PM
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Mold on open reel 1/4" audio tape

Any suggestions for cheaply, safely, and effectively moving significant
mold growth from open reel 1/4" audio tape and reels? I've got a few
that are practically fuzzy.


Matt Bailey
Audiovisual Archivist
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies

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