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Subject: Lysol


From: Michael Trinkley <chicora1>
Date: Wednesday, November 11, 1998
Ms Kriner inquiries about the use of "hospital-grade lysol" for
treatment of collections. I have not read the American Libraries
article, nor am I familiar with what the library in question is, or
is not, doing. So, my comments will address only items specific in
this question.

Although I am unfamiliar with exactly what "hospital grade Lysol"
is, and "Lysol" is a trade name loosely applied to a variety of
cleaning compounds, I suspect that it some quaternary ammonium
compound, such as alkyl dimethethylbenzyl ammonium chloride. These
are often used in hospital settings as germicides. They are also
severe skin and eye irritants, and an experimental poison by
digestion and other routes.

    **** Moderator's comments: It has been quite a while since I
    last saw it, several years at least, but at least one Lysol
    formulation (a scentless spray) used to have as its active
    ingredient o-phenyl phenol.

I take a very conservative approach in mold clean-up. The use of
chemicals in mold clean-up is almost always a poor idea (although
widely espoused by commercial firms).

Mold "spores" or conidia are everywhere. Typically the range of
molds inside a structure closely resemble what is found outside
(assuming no internal breeding source. And trying to disinfect is
impossible without establishing clean room protocols--something
beyond library capabilities (and, I believe, unnecessary). The root
cause of mold is moisture--either from building envelope or
equipment leaks, or from inappropriate environmental controls. It is
this root cause which must be dealt with--not that we create a
"sterile" environment.

Using chemicals on mold has a variety of problems. Many chemicals
have damaging effects on the collections. Many use water carriers,
thereby increasing the relative humidity, absolute humidity, and
water activity of the space and/or collections. Many are toxic. Many
kill vegetative mold, but do not affect the conidia. Moreover, think
about it. Mold is a respirable allergen and may pose significant
health consequences. Even if the toxic chemical does "kill" the mold
conidia, it will still be easily airborne, it will still be easily
respirable, and now it will also be toxic. Is that really what we
want introduced into the lungs of our staff and patrons?

While I am sympathetic to those who have been brought up to believe
the idea of "better living through chemistry," I see no reason to
use toxic chemicals unnecessarily.

Mold on collections can be dealt with--effectively, efficiently, and
safely--by HEPA vacuuming. Best,

Michael Trinkley, Ph.D.
Chicora Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 8664
Columbia, SC  29202-8664

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:43
                Distributed: Thursday, November 12, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-43-005
Received on Wednesday, 11 November, 1998

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