Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Napthalene


From: Victoria Gill <victoria.gill<-a>
Date: Monday, September 22, 2014
I am concerned about the recent increase in garments coming in for
treatment which have been stored with Naphthalene/mothballs.
Several garments have had no odor at all of the offending Napthalene
until aqueous cleaning has been underway.  The sudden sublimation of
napthalene has required heart stopping stressful adjustment to the
wash water pH and poses a health risk.  Has anyone come across a
pre-treatment test to determine the presence of Napthalene.

Recently a garment with no odor other than musty old clothing,
turned out to have so many fumes, the fume extraction was required
and leaving the lab was necessary.  Obviously napthalene has serious
long term implication for the fibres.  Leaving acidic residue is
damaging, washing increases in risk of damage, with wash bath pH
being very unpredictable.  I am interested in any experiences from
other conservators.  In the most recent case the pH of the bath
actually went into the alkali range which is even more confusing.
Adding dilute acetic acid to the bath with the presence of
napthalene and possibly other unknown residue was not considered a
good idea at the time.  The item had been humidified and blotter
spot cleaned and wet tested, with no odor apparent until submerged.
I am confused how no odor at all could result in a situation with so
much Napthalene fumes we needed to leave.

I am still concerned that these situations seem to be increasing as
the "napthalene vintage" of items are reaching the point where
conservation is necessary.  Oh a spot test for everything would be

Victoria Gill
Endangered Heritage pty Ltd
3/17 Dundas Court Phillip 2606
+61 2 61620073

                  Conservation DistList Instance 28:17
               Distributed: Thursday, September 25, 2014
                       Message Id: cdl-28-17-017
Received on Monday, 22 September, 2014

[Search all CoOL documents]