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Subject: Archival collection contaminated by pesticide

Archival collection contaminated by pesticide

From: Kathleen Mullen <kathleen.mullen<-at->
Date: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Late Friday afternoon it came to my attention that we had ingested
and passed out to various units for processing a mixed library and
archives collection of about 50 cubic feet of papers which seem to
have been treated with some sort of pesticide.

I don't know much anything about what the potential infestation is
or was, how the collection was stored (likely in a garage, shed or
basement), what the pesticide was (reports of the treatment came
second hand from acquisitions staff, but the collection reeks of
chemicals, and at least one staff member found some sort of a nest
inside a box), or when/how/how much was applied.

Aside from the obvious questions of whether the treatment was
sufficient to stop whatever the infestation was, I'm concerned about
the implications of the potential pesticide. The literature I'm
aware of that describes protocols for handling pesticide
contaminated items mostly is focused on historic applications to
museum collections. This collection is relatively large (50 cubic
feet of paper).  Do other libraries or archives have ingest and
processing protocols for large-ish, potentially contaminated
collections?  The pesticide must be modern (can I assume some sort
of commonly used at home type, like a pyrethroid?). Do we need to
treat items to be discarded as hazardous waste?  Should we apply
some sort of ventilation to what we'll keep for some period of time?
Do any institutions warn potential users of collections such as this
that they may have been treated?  Does anyone have protocols for
dealing with collections that pose unknowns such as this that they
can share?

We're lucky to have access here to both the UW's campus health and
safety as well as the state industrial hygiene lab, and I'll be in
touch with them on Monday for advice, but other institutional
experience or protocols would be greatly appreciated.

Katie Mullen
Preservation Coordinator
Wisconsin Historical Society
816 State Street
Madison, WI  53706-1482

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:7
                 Distributed: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
                        Message Id: cdl-27-7-025
Received on Saturday, 20 July, 2013

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