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Subject: Radiation and mold

Radiation and mold

From: Agnes Quigg <aggie>
Date: Monday, July 11, 1994
Mold is an ongoing problem in libraries in tropical/semitropical climates.
Our science librarian heard that radiation might be a possible solution to
treating books infested with mold growth.  Has anyone out there tried
radiation as a treatment for mold?  Does anyone know if radiation causes
any diverse effects on book bindings or paper?  Any information regarding
these questions will be appreciated.

    **** Moderator's comments:   "Radiation" covers quite a bit of
    territory, but I suspect the following may be what your librarian
    was thinking of. From Sandy Nyberg's "The Invasion of the Giant
    Spore" SOLINET, Nov 1987 (which is available in CoOL, hint, hint):

        III.B.1.b.  Gamma radiation has been used to sterilize surgical
        equipment and food.  Experiments in irradiation of books to kill
        mold have been conducted by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
        and by the State Central Archives of Czechoslovakia.  Although
        it does kill mold and does not leave residues, there is evidence
        that gamma radiation softens leathers and adhesives and breaks
        down the internal structure of paper.  The folding endurance of
        paper decreases with higher levels of radiation.  Mold can be
        killed at lower levels of radiation when heat is applied; heat,
        however, can also decrease paper strength.  Studies indicate
        that the effects of individual radiation exposures add up, hence
        repeated disinfection of books and papers with radiation is not
        recommended.  Special chambers and corresponding operator
        training are necessary for irradiation, sources which are not
        easily accessible or necessarily affordable for most libraries.
        Because of the possibility of damage and the difficulty of
        accessing equipment, gamma radiation as a fungicide for books is
        not commonly used or recommended.

Agnes Quigg
Preservation Officer
University of Hawaii Library.

                   Conservation DistList Instance 8:7
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 14, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-8-7-008
Received on Monday, 11 July, 1994

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