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Subject: Mold on mummy

Mold on mummy

From: Mary-Lou Florian <mflorian>
Date: Thursday, December 6, 2001
Vera B. Espinola <icona [at] gte__net> writes

>The toes and lower legs of the mummy exhibit a white mold. The
>entire gallery smells musty, although there are enclosed
>administrative areas that do not. What can be done to remove the
>mold and prevent a re-occurrence? ...

The important thing to do is to determine positively that it is mold
between the toes.  Many oily materials produce an oil bloom or spue
which is commonly mistaken for fungal growth.  White crystalline
salts are also often taken for mold.

Using light microscopy, make a dry slide of the white material, and
focus it under the microscope, add to the edge of the cover slip a
small drop of water  and observe as the water tide line or margin
covers the white material.  If it is a salt it will likely dissolve.
If a wax it will remain in a clump.  Take the slide  and apply a
small amount of pressure on the coverslip over the white material.
An eraser at the end of a pencil is easy to use.  On reexamination,
if it is a fungus there will be either small conidia, all the same
shape and size, or filaments of hyphae, if a wax it will appear as
an amorphous mass.  If the surface of the white material on the toe
is rubbed, if it is a wax it will disappear due to friction, if
fungal mycelium  it will ball up and form a solid mass. Culturing
for viable fungi is misleading, because what is usually cultured are
airborne fungal conidia that are on all surfaces and not necessarily
the cause of the spot.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:41
                Distributed: Thursday, December 6, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-41-001
Received on Thursday, 6 December, 2001

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