In 1985 the Getty Conservation Institute began researching the risks posed to museum collections by atmospheric pollutants. Initial studies focused on outdoor pollutants (nitrogen oxides, ozone and other photochemical oxidants, sulfur dioxide, and particles). Research later expanded to include indoor-generated pollutants (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and formic and acetic acids). The emphasis of research also shifted from the macroenvironment (gallery and storage spaces) to the microenvironment (display cases and storage cabinets). Studies were carried out to determine the damage gaseous pollutants cause to various types of museum objects.

The Institute also studied passive sampling devices that would allow museums to conduct their own surveys with minimal cost and expertise. Through testing, a number of commercially available, relatively low-cost products were identified. Also investigated were mitigation methodologies to reduce significant indoor concentrations of pollutants. Those methods that proved effective used active filtration, passive protection, and combinations of procedures that worked along with the building's ventilation system.

Related articles in Conservation, the GCI Newsletter

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Related Scientific Research Abstracts

  • 1.7 Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds from Museum Grade Materials
  • 1.8 Protection of Works of Art from Damage Due to Photochemical Smog
  • 1.9 Protection of Works of Art from Damage Due to Deposition of Airborne Particulate Matter
  • 1.10 Protection of Works of Art from Damage Due to Atmospheric Nitric Acid
  • 1.11 Museum Survey of Indoor PAN, Nitrogen Dioxide, Nitric Acid, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, Sulfur Dioxide, and Reduced Sulfur
  • 1.12 Air Pollution Control Within Museum Display Cases by Active and Passive Sorbent Strategies
  • 1.13 Study of the Effects of Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide on Deacidified Papers-Part 1
  • 1.14 Study of the Effects of Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide on Deacidified Papers-Part 2
  • 1.15 Development of Passive Monitors for Museum Air Quality Measurements
  • 1.19 Museum Survey for Indoor Aldehydes, Ketones, and Organic Acids
  • 1.20 Exposure of Artists' Colorants to Formaldehyde, Peroxyacetyl Nitrate (PAN) and (PAN Nitrogen Dioxide Ozone)
  • 1.21 Feasibility of a Global Network to Monitor the Exposure of Cultural Properties to Environmental Stresses
  • 2.9 Determination of the Sensitivity of Metals to Corrosion by Atmospheric Pollutants: Aldehydes and Carboxylic Acids
  • 3.3 Control of Coarse Particle Intrusion into Museums and Archaeological Sites

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