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Subject: Nitrate and acetate film health hazards

Nitrate and acetate film health hazards

From: Paul Messier <pmessier>
Date: Monday, April 24, 1995
Deteriorated negatives can pose immediate health risks (to my
knowledge, the long term effects of exposure are not as clear).  The
following passage and references are from a Technical Bulletin I
prepared for the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center in 1993.

"Deteriorated negatives, especially nitrates, can emit a noticeable
and noxious odor.  Such gases can cause skin, eye, and respiratory
irritations.  Allergic sensitivity has also been noted, as has
dizziness and lightheadedness.  Handle deteriorated negatives in a
well-ventilated area.  Wear neoprene gloves, remove contact lenses,
and limit exposure times.  It is also advisable to wear goggles and
a respirator with acid/organic vapor filter cartridges."

Selected bibliography:

    Babin, Angela, M.S.  "Nitrocellulose Film Hazards in
        Conservation," Center for Safety in the Arts, New York,

    Hollinshead, Patricia W., Ert, Mark D., Holland, Steven C., and
        Kathy Velo.  "Deteriorating Negatives:  A Health Hazard in
        Collection Management," (Unpublished Manuscript).  Tucson,
        AZ:  Arizona State Museum, 1987.

    National Park Service.  "Curatorial Care of Nitrate Negatives,
        Appendix M," from the Museum Handbook, Washington DC:  NPS,
        Department of the Interior, September, 1990.

Paul Messier
Conservator of Photographs
Brookline, MA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:86
                 Distributed: Saturday, April 29, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-86-006
Received on Monday, 24 April, 1995

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