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Subject: Fumigation


From: Walter Henry <whenry>
Date: Wednesday, March 23, 1994
The following appeared on Museum-L and is reposted here with the
permission of the author. There was an interesting discussion thread on
this topic recently so people who don't normally see Museum-L might want
to take a look through the archives.

    Date: 14 Mar 94
    Sender: Museum discussion list <MUSEUM-L [at] UNMVMA__BITNET@>
    From: San Diego Natural History Museum <libsdnhm [at] class__org>
    Subject: Re: fumigation

    I'm posting this answer to Terry Vidal's fumigation question to the
    list as a whole because I think several people have this problem,
    judging from my correspondence. Q: How do you fumigate big dead
    things? A: What is your problem? I'm constantly surprised by the
    number of people who do routine or "insurance" fumigation without
    checking to see if it is needed. So my first recommendation would be
    to set up a pest monitoring program and keep it going. First, see
    what you have and don't have. (And if it's a large dead thing with
    NO pest problems, ask yourself why not. Too often this is trouble,
    too, in the form of old arsenical or mercuric compounds that make
    the specimen dangerous to people. You may have to test for these and
    isolate the specimen from casual contact.)

    The nature of your pest, the infested material, your training and
    all applicable laws will determine what to do next. Can you opt for
    freezing rather than fumigation? Fumigation is a harsh chemical
    treatment. Evidence is mounting to prove that very few substances
    have no damaging effect to the specimen itself or to the people
    working with the collection. There are specific guidelines for
    freezing, and not all natural history material can be frozen (e.g.
    teeth in some taxidermy mounts, though these may be fake), but, on
    the whole, it's a better immediate solution. It doesn't provide any
    residual protection: you would have to do that by storage and

    Don't use DDVP (=Vapona or No-Pest Strips). See Steve Williams'
    trilogy of articles in Curator a couple of years ago if you want to
    know why not. Don't use PDB; not if you value several of your
    internal organs. I'd seriously recommend that you monitor, stop the
    access of pests at the source, kill the live ones by correct
    freezing, and isolate the material so it doesn't get re-infested.
    Dependence on fumigants appears to have resulted in resistant pests,
    sick people, and damaged specimens. Good luck.

    Sally Shelton
    Collections Conservation Specialist
    San Diego Natural History Museum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:66
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 23, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-66-012
Received on Wednesday, 23 March, 1994

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