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Re: [ARSCLIST] Tapes and Mold

Steve -

Mold is a generic term for many specific types of fungus. Fungus spores
are present at all times in the air. For different species of fungus,
there is a unique set of envirnonmental conditions in which the spore
begins an "active" lifecycle and begins germination and, hence, a
colony. Mostly, the mold that affects cellulosic materials will be
happiest in a warm, dark, moist climate. If these right ingredients
exist, then the likelihood of fungal germination grows. Once the fungi
begin their "active" cycle, it is a difficult task to kill them without
the direct use of some harmful chemical. Since, no one wants to pour
hydrogen peroxide on their tapes, then the options become limited. The
saying is that you can inhibit or slow mold growth by following a few
steps, but the key is to develop a preventative storage environment -
low light, cool, medium to low relative humidity, good constant
ventilation, and free from potential water accumulation sources
(windows, pipes, etc.). 

Always wear gloves when working with potentially "moldy" materials. A
HEPA filtered mask is also useful to keep from inhaling the spores if
they are disturbed from the item and brushed into the air. A great
recommendation is to significantly cool the item (in a refrigerator),
then, using a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered vacuum,
vacuum the item. This will help to do away with as many spores as
possible from the item. If the item is physically sensitive, cover the
vacuum attachment with cotton cloth.

The most serious danger is if the storage environment becomes one that
allows the "sleeping" spores to become "active" again. Then they will
begin germinating and a colony will again develop.

That's my two cents.

Another good option would be for you to contact a consevator and ask
them their opinion. 

Good luck -

Bertram Lyons

Project Manager / Dissemination Coordinator
Association for Cultural Equity
Alan Lomax Archive
450 West 41st Street, Room 606
New York, NY 10036

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