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Subject: Offgassing from MDF

Offgassing from MDF

From: Tom Dixon <tom.dixon>
Date: Friday, February 4, 2000
Vicki Warden <vicki [at] qvmag__tased__edu__au> writes

>...  The architects have recommended the use of a sandwich of
>plasterboard and MDF to be used for the internal walls.  Artworks
>will be hung on the plasterboard, therefore will not come in direct
>contact with the MDF.  We are naturally concerned about the amount
>of gas emission likely to be given off by the MDF.

Welcome to the wonderful world of redevelopment! The National
Gallery of Victoria is in the same situation of evaluating materials
and has come to the conclusion that the balance of
risks/costs/maintenance/ is in favour of MDF with Vilaboard lining
(as opposed to plasterboard).  We looked into a lot of literature,
consulted with numerous colleagues including arts hazard specialist
Monona Rossol.  Our conclusion was that given 7 air changes/hr,
positive pressurization of the buildings, and the relatively lower
offgassing of today's MDF board with that produced many years ago,
it was a better proposition than any of the alternatives.  The
formaldehyde free boards were all considerably more expensive and
the binding resin produces cyanide when burned. The air conditioning
will remove the small amount of formaldehyde released by the board.

Vilaboard, which is a fibrous cement sheeting, creates a very
effective seal and takes paint very well, saving paint and time. The
Vilaboard will be patched and repainted between exhibitions and
sheets can be replaced relatively easily when the nail holes from
hangers become a nuisance.

On balance of all the costs and benefits, the MDF is just fine for
the building, in our judgement.  It is a completely different story
with showcases or wall cases where objects will be sealed inside for
extended periods- there I'd avoid any organic material and use as
much inert material as possible.

If you would like to discuss this further, please e-mail or give me
a call.

Thomas Dixon
Chief Conservator
National Gallery of Victoria

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:43
                Distributed: Wednesday, February 9, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-43-004
Received on Friday, 4 February, 2000

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