In 1986, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) began to investigate potential adverse effects of pest control agents on the materials of museum artifacts and historic structures, especially the sulfuryl fluoride—SO2F2—sold commercially as the fumigant Vikane™ In collaboration with the Canadian Conservation Institute, the Conservation Analytical Laboratory of the Smithsonian Institution, and other institutions, the GCI studied Vikane as a possible pest control agent. Research sought to assess the potential damage of Vikane to modern and traditional resins and waxes pigments, as well as metals.

The Conservation Analytical Laboratory, scientists investigated the potential interaction between Vikane and proteins and dyes. For proteinaceous materials—silk, leather, and gelatin—the methods of investigation were amino acid analysis, colorimetric measurements, tensile strength, pH, and elemental analysis before and after accelerated aging. For dyes, UV/vis spectrophotometry and TLC were employed.

While little to no visible damage to materials was noted when Vikane was properly used, scientists concluded that the selection criteria for a fumigant must be based on an in-depth analysis of its possible effect on the physical and chemical properties of exposed artifacts. The results indicated that there are some possibilities for damage to the materials that should be considered before fumigation is performed. Additionally, it was determined that documentation of fumigation should be recorded for each object so that future treatments take the fumigation history into account.

Related research conducted in collaboration with the University of Florida examined the efficacy of sulfuryl fluoride against adult, larvae, and eggs of carpet beetles. Methyl bromide has been an effective fumigant for dermestid beetles; however, its potential for producing malodorous compounds in some animal products is unsatisfactory for museum application. Vikane has proven to be a likely substitute, yet little had been known of its efficacy for dermestids. This study produced information not just for the museum community but for all potential users of space fumigants.

Related Scientific Research Abstracts

  • 1.2 Potential Adverse Effects of Pest Control Agents on the Materials of Museum Artifacts - CAL
  • 1.3 Potential Adverse Effects of Pest Control Agents on the Materials of Museum Artifacts - GCI
  • 1.4 Potential Adverse Effects of Pest Control Agents on the Materials of Museum Artifacts - CCI
  • 1.5 Fumigant Efficacy of Sulfuryl Fluoride against Three Carpet Beetles (Coleoptra: Dermestidae, Anobiidae)