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Subject: Meeting on pollution-induced artefact deterioration

Meeting on pollution-induced artefact deterioration

From: Lorraine Gibson <l.t.gibson>
Date: Wednesday, January 14, 1998
As Jean Tetrault recently mentioned (7 Jan) a meeting I am
organising later in the year I thought I would send out some more

A meeting will take place in May or June at Strathclyde University
in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss a number of issues related to the
effects of indoor generated pollution.

We are all well aware of the deleterious effects of 'carbonyl
pollutants', such as acetic acid and formaldehyde (from wood and
wood-related products), on a wide range of susceptible materials
such as metals and calcareous items.

At present, independent testing methods for the presence of these
vapours and gases exists, and pollution sampling is becoming
commonplace in many museums. However the sampling methods used vary
considerably from the application of simple visual tests (for
example using metal coupons and strips) to the implementation of
integrated samplers which can identify and quantify specific
pollutants.  Understandably, different methods are used by different
institutes, depending on what materials, instrumentation, money etc.
is available to them.

The meeting (which I hope will be the first of many) will include a
number of topics for discussion :

    1.  the extent of damage on artefacts due to the presence of
        indoor pollutants such as acetic acid and formaldehyde.

    2.  the various sampling methods currently in use for
        atmospheric monitoring and materials testing.

    3.  whether or not standard operating procedures could have a
        place in the museum environment.  (So that interlaboratory
        comparisons can be performed, i.e. the results obtained from
        individual testing experiments would not only be relative to
        the individual collection under examination, but would be
        comparable to results obtained by other institutes following
        the same standard method of analysis).

    4.  the possibility of introducing 'threshold' pollution levels
        that artefacts can sustain without significant damage (note
        that the term threshold is used loosely here as the
        no-effect level should theoretically be at zero pollutant
        concentration.  Although, to assume that such situations
        exist, or could be invoked, is illusory).

This first, informal meeting will involve scientists I currently
collaborate with (no other selection criteria has been involved!)
from the Getty Conservation Institute, the Netherlands Institute for
Cultural Heritage, possibly the Canadian Conservation Institute, as
well as scientists from museums and Universities in the UK.

We would like to welcome any suggestions and/or topics for
discussion from those concerned with the problem of indoor-generated
pollution. Particularly anyone who has detected corrosion as a
result of pollution attack and what, if any, sampling and mitigation
strategies were implemented. Thanks in advance for your

Dr. Lorraine Gibson
Dept. of Pure and Applied Chemistry
University of Strathclyde
295 Cathedral Street
Glasgow G1 1XL
+44 141 548 2073
fax +44 141 548 4212

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:61
                Distributed: Wednesday, January 14, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-61-003
Received on Wednesday, 14 January, 1998

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