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Indoor pollution in archival collections in the context of a changing environment

Menart, E; (2013) Indoor pollution in archival collections in the context of a changing environment. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Paper degradation is an unavoidable series of processes and the most important factors causing paper degradation in long-term archival storage are temperature, relative humidity, pollutants and the paper properties, mainly acidity. To study these effects, experiments were performed to determine degradation rates on sacrificial historic papers, with a reference to Nationaal Archief (The Netherlands). Handling and display lifetimes were defined and calculated for each paper type and shown to differ significantly according to paper type and purpose of use. The lifetimes were significantly affected by concentrations of NO2 resembling actual concentrations in archival repositories, whereas the effect of AcOH was limited. A new approach to defining pollutant doses was introduced, which also takes into account degradation resulting from T and RH. At realistic pollutant concentrations, T and RH, and paper properties contribute significantly to the overall degradation process during long-term storage, and should therefore be included in a comparative assessment of preservation options. A new concept of pollutant thresholds was also introduced. Using this concept, the determined thresholds are in the concentration range found in an archival repository or above for NO2, but depend significantly on paper type for AcOH. A method for estimating paper lifetime was proposed. As both handling and display lifetimes of the most sensitive parts of a typical collection were predicted to be less than 500 years, preservation measures to achieve that target were investigated using the method of lifetime prediction. Air filtration would prolong the lifetime of the most sensitive acidic paper by approximately 150 years. The same effect could, however, be achieved by other preservation measures, such as decreasing the temperature by 4 °C. Outcomes of the research presented here could inform the decision-making process in planning long-term preservation measures by providing a quantitative comparison of different options and the required research evidence.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Indoor pollution in archival collections in the context of a changing environment
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1402788
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