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Subject: Air quality--dust

Air quality--dust

From: Robert L. DeCandido <bronxbob>
Date: Friday, April 17, 1992
Sans song, sans singer and sans end

I'm glad Mr. Milooski brought up the subject of dust.  I didn't
understand him, but I'm glad he brought it up anyway.  Quite a while ago
(over a year) I was asked by Richard Frieder to address the subject of
dust in my "Out of the Question" column in the Conservation
Administration News (CAN, we call it around here).  What, he wanted to
know, was what's so bad about dust on books.  OK, it's not pretty.  It's
not terribly sanitary.  But is it worth the big bucks it would cost to
get rid of it? Is there some chemical reaction that promotes

Some of you more astute sorts have noticed that I have not, in fact, so
much as mentioned dust in the pages CAN so far.  Am I scared to address
this problem?  Not at all.  It is ignorance, not fear that has kept my
mouth clamped shut all this while.  Did I hear someone say, "And about
time, too."

Winger and Smith in "Deterioration and Preservation of Library
Materials, " etc. have an article by Carl Wessel which says in part:
"Atmospheric pollutants are important to the librarian not only because
of their physiological effects on himself (sic) and his (sic) clients
but because of their deteriorating effects on the materials in his (sic)
collections..."  He includes particulate matter in his list of
pollutants.  "Although much flying dust and dirt is quite dry - that is
why it is so easily picked up by the wind - it can still soil surfaces
such as book pages and bindings.  If conditions are moist, such dirt can
stain the materials and be difficult to remove.  If it comprises
nutrients for fungi, and if conditions are moist, such dirt can result
in the growth of mildew with consequent staining and discoloration of
paper or other materials.  The abrasive action of dust and dirt on paper
and other library materials such as leather is also a serious
deterioration problem...If dust or dirt carries acidic or alkaline
substances and conditions are moist, it can alter the pH of paper or
other materials and cause deterioration."

All well and good but does the "abrasive action of dust and dirt"
*really* constitute a "serious deterioration problem?" And if so how
serious? As for the chemical effect of dust it seems to me that alkaline
dust would "alter the pH of paper" in its favor rather than to its
detriment.  Anent that, the chemical composition of dust collected from
the tops of books at NYPL was found to be:

    25% textile fibers (mostly cotton and poly)
    24% mineral dust (calcite, quartz, and feldspar)
    17% soot
    34% biological components of which 28% was paper (I don't want
           know what the other 6% was

Is there anyone out there who has seen or done research on this? Can
somebody quantify Wessel's claims or at least back them up with some
concrete research?

    **** Moderator's comments: Localized changes in pH aren't likely to
    work "in our favor".  If there were an effect the most likely effect
    would be a visible disfigurement, not deacidification

The Question Man    bronxbob [at] well__sf__ca__us

                  Conservation DistList Instance 5:52
                  Distributed: Monday, April 20, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-5-52-005
Received on Friday, 17 April, 1992

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