News and views on indoor air quality, chemical exposure, allergies, asthma, general health, and air purification.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Air Pollution Affecting Historical Artifacts Worldwide, Even Indoors
The Taj Mahal is turning yellow.
Greece’s Parthenon and Egypt’s pyramids are showing signs of serious decay.
500 year old statues in Florence, Italy which were restored only nine years ago are now pockmarked and covered in black scum.
These vital links to our past and our humanity are not being damaged by vandals, earthquakes or even acid rain, but by air pollution.
For many countries the problem has become so insurmountable that where possible, important monuments have been moved indoors.
Unfortunately, conservationists have found that the decay doesn’t end there. Museum curators and archivists are also struggling with preserving art and other historical documents from indoor air pollution.
In 1985 the Getty Conservation Institute began researching the risks of atmospheric pollutants on museum collections as well as possible remedies and solutions.
Among their findings, they determined that ozone concentrations within museums fitted with activated carbonair filtration units were generally quite low (ozone causes fading and discoloration).
Activated carbon is also effective on numerous other pollutants which can affect artifacts, including formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, formic acid and acetic acid.
Cultural facilities property should address these contaminants in order to preserve their collections, before pollutants will cause irreparable damage.