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Subject: Amines in steam humidification systems

Amines in steam humidification systems

From: Paul Himmelstein <aandh>
Date: Tuesday, February 6, 2001
James Stroud <stroud [at] mail__utexas__edu> writes:

>We have learned that in April this year the University of Texas is
>planning to introduce amines into its boiler water to reduce energy
>costs. This water is used for the direct steam humidification of our
>building. I am being asked to provide input on the effect of amines
>(in particular cyclohexylamine, morpholine, and/or
>diethylaminoethanol) in our humidity system on our air quality and
>on our collections (books, paper, photographs, textiles, paintings,

The Johnson Museum in Ithaca, New York, had a similar situation that
was studied quite extensively.  The results have been published and
can be reviewed in abstracts on BCIN.  (Also, Paula Volent and
Norbert Baer published some material on amines used in steam
humidification systems.) The Johnson Museum had considerable
contamination of work surfaces and collection objects from an open
steam system used for humidification.  The system, with amines used
as corrosion inhibitors, was originally designed as a closed system
for heating Cornell University buildings.  It was not intended as a
source for humidification steam.  Workers in the museum complained
of various symptoms related to amine exposure.  NIOSH investigated,
and their report is available.  Works of art were contaminated, and
many required extensive surface cleaning.  I believe the
Williamstown Regional Center did the conservation work.

In general, we have always recommended against the use of a central
steam supply for direct humidification when the system was
originally intended to be a closed loop system.  It is possible to
use the closed system to generate clean steam, and this is certainly
advisable due to concerns related to amines, both  as a health
hazard and as a source of damage to museum objects.

A question for Mr. Stroud:  Amines are added to steam systems to
reduce corrosion of metal components of the system.  Is there some
other reason that they are recommending them as an additive?

Paul Himmelstein

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:43
                 Distributed: Tuesday, February 6, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-43-002
Received on Tuesday, 6 February, 2001

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