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Subject: Mold


From: Rise Taylor <rise>
Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2002
I am looking for preferably specific information on
moulds/microorganisms found in archaeological material and archival
material, which can give health problems of the type described
below, but general references are also very welcome.

I have been working in the field of archaeological conservation for
over 20 years.The last few years I have been working with "more
recent" grave material--organic material 400-500 years old. In that
time, I have developed eye problems which started as frequent
infections, and now seem to be outbursts due to sensitivity, with
the most plaguing symptom an insane itchiness, which frequently only
affects one eye at a time, but then switches to the other eye. In
addition, an attack starts frequently with bad pain above the eyes,
and a short lived redness, as well as puffiness around the eyes. The
itching, pressing headache and eyeache, and a sensation of not
seeing clearly, can last for weeks and then disappear for a long

At first the symptoms seemed to hit when working with
"recent"material--but not every time, In the last couple of years,
symptoms can start without seeming to be linked to a specific cause.
However, the last two years we have been freeze drying an archive,
and shelves around one of the main labs are continually filled with
finished archival material. I now understand that freeze drying does
not destroy moulds, so the spores, if present in the material, have
been pumped out in our air by the vacuum pump.

As there are no visual symptoms except in the first few hours, and
we have so many different materials in the lab, the health and
safety people are not sure what to test for next.  The allergy
specialist needs to have more specific information in order to test
further. Other general health results are increased incidence of
respiratory infections, marked tiredness and headaches after working
in the lab.

Rise Taylor
Archaeological Conservator
Tromsoe Museum
University of Tromsoe
N-9037 Tromsoe
Fax: +47-776-45920

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:82
                  Distributed: Thursday, June 6, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-82-008
Received on Wednesday, 5 June, 2002

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