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Subject: Body fluids

Body fluids

From: David Tremain <david_tremain>
Date: Thursday, October 5, 1995
Shannon Zachary's note about body fluids and contaminated documents
and books prompts me to write about procedures the Works on Paper
laboratory at the  Canadian Conservation Institute adopted three
years ago when dealing with this problem.

>From time to time, the Works on Paper laboratory receives from the
Transportation Safety Board of Canada documents and logbooks
recovered from air crashes and sunken ships, which are brought in
for vacuum freeze-drying.  On one particular occasion the documents
smelled really rancid.  We later discovered that the flight pad
concerned had been in contact with the pilot's body.

Prior to this we had already adopted the practice of wearing
disposable latex gloves, masks, and placing the documents in a fume
hood, but after this I decided to look into what were the potential
health hazards and try to develop a series of guidelines for us to

>From talking to forensic scientists at the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police Central Forensic Laboratory (document examiners and a
toxicologist), Health Canada (Occupational & Environmental Health
Services; Environmental Health Surveillance & Sanitation; Laboratory
Centre for Disease Control; Occupational Medicine & Hazards
Investigation; and Bureau of Communicable Disease Epidemiology), as
well as the Ontario Centre for Forensic Sciences, and my own GP, I
learned that everyone felt that providing one took appropriate
precautions (i.e. gloves, mask, fume hood) the conservator handling
these documents could not contract any nasty diseases (i.e. AIDS,
hepatitis) since the pathogens have a very short life indeed.  They
also advised that the work area be cleaned thoroughly with an
appropriate chemical germicide or disinfectant, such as 10% sodium
hypochlorite (i.e. Javex).

Although the guidelines that I subsequently drew up at CCI were
intended for "internal use only" (if you pardon the expression) and
are not an official CCI document, I would be pleased to share them
with anyone who is interested in pursuing this further. I can be
contacted at david_tremain [at] pch__gc__ca

David Tremain, Conservator
Works on Paper laboratory

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:32
                 Distributed: Thursday, October 5, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-9-32-002
Received on Thursday, 5 October, 1995

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