Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Mold


From: Juliet Graham <jandj1>
Date: Friday, July 7, 2000
Julie Blyth <juliblyt [at] rph__health__wa__gov__au> writes

>    1.  If there is active mould in a collection, how quickly could
>        it be expected to spread to new materials?  We have found
>        what seem to be different varieties of mould and mildew on
>        bound journals which are more than ten years old; if there
>        is no mould on newer materials, does that mean it is
>        possible that the mould outbreak occurred in the past, and
>        is no longer active, or will it be a matter of months or
>        years before the mould becomes evident on new items?
>    2.  If an item is water-damaged (ie arrived wet in the post),
>        but was dry before being included in the library collection,
>        what is the danger of mould developing on the dry item?  I
>        assume that if the temperature and humidity are at
>        appropriate levels, there would be little danger of mould
>        developing once the item is dry--is this correct?

Last year, I worked with conservators at the Canadian Conservation
Institute preparing guidelines and training staff to deal with
active and dormant mould in a library collection. Mould response is
a large topic to write about, briefly I will outline some basic
procedures and concerns.

Active and dormant mould are both concerns, for the damage potential
to books, but more importantly from a health and safety point of
view. It is possible that the mould outbreak you describe occurred in
the past and, if the library environment is stable, it may not
immediately affect other books in the collection in the form of
active mould growth.. However, whether dormant or active, mould is a
serious health consideration. Mould spores are everywhere, in
dormant form within dust particles, waiting for the correct
conditions to grow. Where they are in larger concentrations, such as
the books described above, if and when the correct conditions
present themselves, growth will come that much more quickly and
easily because of the increased concentration of spores from the
previous period of growth. If the correct conditions are not
present, the mould will remain dormant but still viable.

Air quality testing should be done to determine if the air in the
area is contaminated. Some mould species are allergens of varying
degree, and some are actually toxic, this is true whether the mould
is active or dormant.

Mouldy items should be handled only when personal protective
equipment is worn. This includes a respirator suitable for working
with mould, latex or vinyl gloves, safety goggles and protective
hair, shoe and clothing coveralls. Dispersion of mould spores into
the air will affect the air in the vicinity.

Mouldy books should be isolated from the rest of the collection to
prevent contamination of other books, and to protect the health of
library patrons and staff.

Some  resources for further research include

    AIC Book and Paper Group Catalogue chapter 12: Mold/Fungi

    Conserve-O-Gram July 1993 No. 3-4 "Mould and Mildew"

I hope this is helpful,

Juliet Graham
Paper Conservator

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:4
                 Distributed: Wednesday, July 12, 2000
                        Message Id: cdl-14-4-006
Received on Friday, 7 July, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]