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Subject: Odor in textile collection

Odor in textile collection

From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Monday, November 18, 1996
I recently received a telephone call from a representative of the
company that bought out Interior Steel, in response to some of the
discussion on the DistList.  I did make an error in assuming that
the cabinets which cause concern to Mr. Liao were enamelled steel;
based on the company's records, the cabinets his institution
purchased were powder-coated.  The person who spoke to me denied the
possibility that enamelled shelves were sold in powder-coated
cabinets;  she stated that the opposite would have been true, that
is, that the shelves were powder coated at a time when the cabinets
were still baked enamel.  In any case, the new company (which is
trying to continue to use the name of Interior Steel) is pledged to
high quality. Neither the production methods nor the staff which
caused some institutions considerable problems in the past are still
around.

I have been having private correspondence with the two people who
wrote to the DistList, but I want to repeat something really
important.  When you have a problem with a storage cabinet (or
anything manufactured outside your institution), the most important
source of data is the thing itself. If there is a question about
whether a smell comes from a cabinet or its contents, take two
cabinets, air them out, and close them up, one empty and one with
the suspect objects in it.  Then if appropriate, go on to identify
the off-gassing chemically. It may help to get an outsider who has
experience with problems like this to consult because there are many
different explanations.  The manufacturing technique may have its
own problems routinely or the one run or one cabinet may have its
own flaws. Gasketting or other added material may have problems. For
all we know, packing materials or previous storage may play a part.
It is vital to proceed systematically and consider all the
alternatives as well as considering the exact nature of the problem;
is the concern for collections or for unpleasantness of a smell for
staff or for overload on the air cleaning equipment?  Now that
powder coating has become a common technology, thanks to air quality
laws, will there be differences in the quality of the powder
coatings?

Smells have been noted in powder coated cabinets, too.  If anyone
has investigated the nature of these smells, please let us all know
about it.

Barbara Appelbaum

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:48
                 Distributed: Monday, November 18, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-48-004
                                  ***
Received on Monday, 18 November, 1996

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