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Subject: Archival containers and microenvironments

Archival containers and microenvironments

From: Dale Peters <petersd>
Date: Monday, August 5, 1996
Ekaterina Starova <ban [at] info__rasl__spb__ru> writes

>I am very interested in a study of archival containers and
>microenvironments including boxes, folders and polyester
>encapsulation with a view to understanding the maximum benefit that
>can be obtained from particular materials and designs.

I have recently conducted a study of this phenomenon copy of which
has been submitted separately.

    **** Moderator's comments: The article ("Climates and
    Microclimates: A New Attitude to the Storage of Archival
    Materials") is available in Conservation OnLine at

The use of microclimates to buffer unstable environmental conditions
is an effective passive climatic control technique, but the
potential hazards are becoming evident.

The observation of mould in archival storage containers is based on
three contributory factors:

    1.  the equilibrium moisture content and history of the material
        placed into the container;

    2.  the lack of provision for vapour exchange, both by diffusion
        and by pressure and temperature-driven flow,  independent of
        RH in the macroclimate. As the room temperature falls,
        atmosphere is drawn into the container, and as the
        temperature increases, atmosphere is drawn out, drawing with
        it moisture from the paper substrate; and

    3.  the autocatalytic degradation by volatile and pollutant
        concentration, exacerbated by acid-induced migration from
        inappropriate storage materials.

Clearly, the implications for conservation relate to stable
environmental conditions,  the design of enclosures to allow for
atmospheric interchange, and the careful selection of suitable, and
preferably, active storage materials.

Mrs Dale Peters
Paper Conservator
Campbell Collections of the University of Natal
220 Marriott Road
Durban 4001
South Africa
+27 31 260 2306
Fax: +27 31 291 622

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:17
                 Distributed: Thursday, August 8, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-17-001
Received on Monday, 5 August, 1996

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