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Subject: Vinegar syndrome

Vinegar syndrome

From: James Elwing <eg.archival<-a>
Date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Laura Wahl <lwahl<-a t->hagley< . >org> writes

>Deborah Sutherland <d.sutherland<-a t->vam< . >ac< . >uk> writes
>>The National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London,
>>recently opened a Chubb fire safe that had been inaccessible for two
>>decades.  The contents had vinegar syndrome and have been disposed
>>of appropriately, but we would like to re-use the safe ...
>...  I would be very hesitant to store important
>documents of long-term archival value in a safe, due to the lack of
>air circulation and the fact that it can create a microclimate.  I
>have encountered papers stored in a safe in an office environment
>that were permeated with a strong mold odor, although no surface
>mold was present.  The papers were probably used in a fairly high RH
>environment and then placed in the small tightly sealed safe.  When
>stored in a warm room this created a nice environment for
>biodeterioration to begin.

Closed systems, long term, tend to take up the average RH of their
immediate environments, modified by the moisture content of the
contents.  Essentially we can have the same problem with welded
polyester encapsulated documents and polypropylene albums and
archive boxes.  The RH in a safe can be modified with silica gel
packs, as long as some kind of periodic monitoring is carried out.

Without monitoring, control of VOC's, RH and temperature, I agree
that a safe in a poor environment is not appropriate long term

James Elwing
Archival conservator
Elwing and Gurney Archival
NSW, Australia

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:37
                  Distributed: Sunday, March 30, 2014
                       Message Id: cdl-27-37-002
Received on Tuesday, 25 March, 2014

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