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Subject: Mold


From: Mary-Lou Florian <mflorian>
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2001
Cindy Ramotnik <ramotnik [at] unm__edu> writes

>I am posting the following inquiry on behalf of a colleague who does
>not have access to the listserv:
>    I have some wooden masks and leather goods (bags mostly, but
>    also parts of masks) which, due to unusually high humidity, have
>    developed extensive mold throughout their surfaces.  Would you
>    happen to be aware of relatively innocuous, conservation
>    friendly (vis-a-vis the leather especially) ways of dealing with
>    the problem?  Usually, I just douse the material with alcohol,
>    but I don't think that would be good for the leather, although
>    the wood might resist all right.

There are many issues you must address. If these are museum
accessioned objects, you should make a full record of any treatment
you do. The protection against allergenic fungal structures should
be taken by staff handling them, specially if they have asthma or
respiratory problems.  Particulate masks and gloves are recommended
and a fume hood for cleaning the objects in. The commonest approach
for fungal structure removal is to make sure the objects are dry and
to vacuum them with a zone collector using conservation standards.

Killing the mold does not eliminate the problem of health hazard.
Even if dead the fungal structures may act as antigens and thus have
to be removed.

The result of fungal growth is due to microenvironments on the
materials.  Air circulation and protection from high humidity is
needed.  This may not be possible in their present environment thus
you could consider sending them to another institute which has
adequate environmental control.  There are methods of using a
material such as silica gel in a small display case or storage
container which will control the RH and thus prevent fungal growth.
You should contact the Conservation Section in your local Museum or
University of Arizona at Tucson for further assistance.

Mary-Lou Florian
Conservation Scientist, Research Associate
Royal British Columbia Museum
Victoria, BC Canada

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:15
                 Distributed: Wednesday, August 8, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-15-009
Received on Sunday, 5 August, 2001

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