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Subject: Napthalene


From: Monona Rossol <actsnyc<-a>
Date: Saturday, September 27, 2014
Victoria Gill <victoria.gill<-a t->endangeredheritage< . >com> writes

>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.

The odor threshold for naphthalene in 0.015 ppm and the TLV-TWA is
10 ppm. So you smell it long before it is considered a workplace
hazard in the US.  However, our standards suck a bit.  The German
standards (the MAKs) do not list an air quality limit for
naphthalene because it has a MAK-2 rating as a carcinogen and they
think the level should be as close to zero as possible.

Check with your Australian National Standards for occupational
exposure limits.  And then you can make up your mind what to think.

As for why garments should have no odor until they are put in water,
that's really interesting.  In ordinary fibers, the naphthalene
penetrates the fiber and when the outside air concentration drops,
the naphthalene migrates back out at the same time-dependent rate
that it penetrated the fibers.  The only way to speed up the release
is to raise the temperature.  So there never should be a spike like

That means there has to be something other than fibers there.
Something like some kind of fiber treatment chemicals, oils or some
such. I think I'd experiment with liquid softener chemicals first.
They are substances that coat fibers to keep them more separated
which make the fabric appear thicker and fluffier.  And since it is
water deposited it would also resolubilize in water.

By the way, the fabric softeners also significantly increase the
flammability of fabrics.  We don't allow them to be used on costumes
or fabrics that will be on stage if there will be smoking,
pyrotechnics or any other source of heat or flame.

Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A.
Industrial Hygienist
President:  Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St, #23
New York, NY 10012

                  Conservation DistList Instance 28:18
                 Distributed: Saturday, October 4, 2014
                       Message Id: cdl-28-18-002
Received on Saturday, 27 September, 2014

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