Pollutants in the Museum Environment (1985-1998)
 
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The objective of the GCI's research on pollutants was to help museum staff detect harmful pollutants before damage occurs, as with this Dutch tile. Salts in the tile and acetic acid from the materials of the wooden cabinet in which it was stored caused the gross efflorescence. Photo: Cecily Grzywacz.

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At the request of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, the GCI conducted active sampling for aldehydes and organic acids in 1988. Here, air samples are collected from a display case constructed of koa wood. Photo: Dusan Stulik.

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As part of an expanded survey of collecting instructions, the GCI conducted air sampling at the American Museum of Natural History in 1989. The GCI's survey of seventeen institutions inthe United States demonstrates that indoor air quality is worse in microenvironments if poor materials are used. Photo: Cecily Grzywacz.

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Indications of potentially hazardous microclimates are found frequently on existing materials. For example, this zinc-coated steel lock plate on a storage cabinet has a powdery, matte appearance, indicating the presence of formaldehyde. Photo: Courtesy the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

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A display case in the process of being retrofitted in 1990. The GCI survey identified a number of display cases with high concentrations of organic carbonyl pollutants. Cases were retrofitted and retested to determine the effectiveness of the renovation. Photo: Bruce Metro.

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Five commercially available formaldehyde passive sampling devices (PSDs), which were tested by the GCI for use in museum microenvironments, such as display cases and storage cases. Photo: Dusan Stulik.

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Direct-reading colorimetric diffusion tubes, which are used to prescreen areas before using active sampling or more expensive PSDs. The devices register the concentration as the extent of color development per unit of time along the length of the tube. Photo: Olivia Primanis.

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Active air sampling at Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. In 1993 the GCI conducted a survey of institutions in Europe, seeking locations with visible damage to the artifacts that might be attributable to organic carbonyl pollutants. Photo: Cecily Grzywacz.

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Active air sampling equipment used in the GCI's survey of institutions in Europe. Photo: Cecily Grzywacz.

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Conservation scientist Norman Tennent conducting active air sampling at the Kelvingrove Art Museum and Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1993. Photo: Cecily Grzywacz.

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A set of organic carbonyl pollutants PSDs being placed in a display case at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1997. These include new devices that have been developed for detecting formaldehyde and organic acids. Photo: Cecily Grzywacz.