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Subject: Toxic materials

Toxic materials

From: Karin von Lerber <karin.vonlerber>
Date: Monday, August 7, 2000
Planning the translocation of a major collection of ethnographic
objects in Switzerland, we encountered serious difficulties with
toxic substances used for pest control in earlier days. We had dust
samples of the old storage areas screened  for the most probable
toxics, and considerable amounts of toxic substances were found.
Among others:

    PCP: (2,3,4,5,6-Pentachlorophenol), Chlorophen, Penchlorol
    DDT: (1,1-Bis-(4-chlorophenyl)-2,2,2-trichloroethane)
    Lindan: (Hexachlorocyclohexane), HCH.
    Mercury (not determined if organic or inorganic)

As far as we know there are no levels of maximum daily intake or
maximum levels (in dust or air) established considering the specific
working situation in museum storage.

Have other museums done similar screenings of their storage areas?
What are the results? Are there any other toxic substances
presumably used for pest control found in museum storage areas? Are
there any  threshold limits for toxics in museums, any health and
safety guidelines? What are the measures to be taken for cleaning the
objects or for reducing the amount of toxic substances in the air an
in the dust?

We are considering replacing all wooden structures of shelves and
trays as well as cleaning the objects with an aspirator fitted with
a HEPA filter. Protective clothing, gloves and gas-masks will be
worn. The new storage area will be fitted with mobile rackings made
of metal and closed on all sides; climate control will run with 100%
fresh air intake. Ventilation will be forced as soon as a specific
storage area is entered, as well as in the study and working areas.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Joachim Huber and Karin von Lerber
Prevart GmbH
Konzepte fur die Kulturgutererhaltung
Oberseenerstr. 93
CH-8405 Winterthur
+41 52 233 12 54
Fax: +41 52 233 12 57

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:12
                  Distributed: Friday, August 11, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-12-013
Received on Monday, 7 August, 2000

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