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Subject: Camphor


From: George Bailey <george.bailey>
Date: Monday, May 6, 2002
Jill Haley <jill.haley [at] otagomuseum__govt__nz> writes

>My institution has historically used camphor cubes placed in storage
>areas as a insect repellent. Cubes have been placed in containers,
>usually petri dishes or open jars, and either set in corners of
>rooms or placed on storage shelves near objects. In no instance does
>camphor come in contact with objects. However, I was wondering if
>camphor is a risk to collections? I have heard that it might
>possibly be a health risk to human health. Does anyone know if this
>is the case? Should this practice be discontinued?

Camphor not only has insect repellant properties, but also some
corrosion inhibition properties for ferrous metals. In the 19th
century, the Swedish Army stored their firearms in cabinets made
from Camphor wood for this reason. Camphor is, however, also used as
a plasticizer for cellulose nitrate plastics and some paints and
varnishes, so you might find some synthetics will be softened when
exposed to it. According to the Merck Index  (10th ed 1983) Camphor
is poisonous to humans if injected or ingested. It makes no mention
about effects of inhalation.

George Bailey
Objects Conservator
Australian War Memorial

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:75
                   Distributed: Tuesday, May 7, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-75-005
Received on Monday, 6 May, 2002

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