TSG Chapter III. Environmental Concerns for Textiles - Section B. Air Quality
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Original Draft: Sarah C. Stevens
Contributors: Mary Ballard, Lucy Commoner, Shirley Ellis, Robin Hanson, Irene Karsten, Richard Kerschner, Teresa Knutson, Anne Murray, Zoe Annis Perkins, Patty Silence, Jan Vuori
Editors: Kathy Francis, Mary Kaldany, Nancy Love, Nancy Pollak, Deborah Lee Trupin
Copy Editor/Layout Consultant: Jessica S. Brown
Statement of Purpose
The Textile Conservation Catalog records current conservation treatments and practices for artistic and historic textiles. Each chapter compiles the variety of treatments and techniques currently used by textile conservators. The Catalog is a voluntary, cooperative project of the Textile Specialty Group of the AIC. Participating members have developed and commented extensively on the chapters.
The Catalog is in the form of an outline. There are no detailed instructions for treatment, and the Catalog does not seek to establish definitive methods or standards. Entries are qualifies by including “factors to consider,” however the inclusion of a treatment in the Catalog is not an endorsement or approval of the procedures described. The Catalog is designed for trained textile conservators who are familiar with the vocabulary and processes included in the outlines. Chapters are intended to be a guide in the treatment decision-making process and allow conservators to explore treatment options. Each conservator remains responsible for the safety and appropriateness of any treatment.
Although the focus of the Catalog is conservation treatment, related subjects such as environment, storage, and exhibition are included, but only insofar as the describe issues met and actions taken by textile conservators.
Final Revision, April 2, 1998
B. Air Quality
1. Factors to consider
- a) Particulate soils: Dust, dirt, grit, etc.
- 1) Sources of particulate soils
- (a) Soils are brought in from the outside by people, through open windows, and by insufficiently filtered HVAC systems.
- (b) Within a building, carpeting and standard acoustical ceiling tiles are sources of particulate matter.
- (c) Construction, renovation, or exhibit building projects within the museum generate particulate soils.
- 2) Problems and damage from particulate soils
- (a) Soiling can be visually disturbing.
- (b) Soils may attract and hold moisture and lead to growth of biological organisms.
- (c) Abrasiveness of soils can result in mechanical damage.
- (d) The combination of acidic particulate soils and high RH may accelerate damage in acid-sensitive textiles.
- b) Gaseous pollutants: acidic gases, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, or oxidants such as ozone
- 1) Sources of gaseous pollution
- (a) Vehicular exhaust and burning of fossil fuels in power stations are usually more of a problem in urban and industrial areas than in rural areas.
- (b) Gaseous pollution within buildings come from various sources.
- (2) Damaging volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are generated from many building materials, such as vinyl flooring, carpeting and carpet pads, urea formaldehydecontaining wood products, adhesives, paints, gasketing materials, plastics, fabric finishes, and some cleaning products.
- (a) Gaseous pollutants can come from kitchen exhaust systems.
- (b) Gaseous pollutants may come from heating systems, especially oil-fired furnaces or boilers.
- (c) Ozone can come from electrostatic precipitators in the building’s HVAC system, electronic air cleaners, laser printers, and photocopy machines.
- (d) Gaseous pollutants inside cases are usually generated by the case materials, but can also come from the object(s) displayed in the case.
- (3) Problems and damage from gaseous pollutants
- (a) Gaseous pollutants can alter the pH of an artifact, thereby contributing to fiber breakdown.
- (b) Gaseous pollutants can alter dyes.
- (c) Damage from gaseous pollutants can be accelerated by high RH.
2. Preventive methods
- a) Reduce particulate and gaseous pollutants entering the building by using particulat e and gaseous filters on HVAC systems/units.
- b) Carefully select all building and exhibit materials and finishes to be nonpolluting, ideally working with a museum environmental consultant or selecting “green” architectural products.
- c) Protect textiles within the building from pollutants and particulates.
- 1) Use good housekeeping methods.
- (a) Use HEPA vacuums to maintain galleries and storage areas.
- (b) Use door mats at entrances to reduce dirt from shoes.
- (c) Remove carpeting from galleries. If carpeting must be used, static-reducing carpets (that test below 3.5 kv) are a better choice.
- (d) Clean dust mops after use; use HEPA vacuum to clean the mops.
- (e) Do not use brooms or sweeping motions.
- 2) Keep all stored textiles in closed storage containers/furniture. (See VIII. Storage of Textiles, B. Storage furniture and C. Storage materials.)
- 3) Display textiles in cases or glazed frames whenever possible.
- (a) Microclimates can be created within sealed frames that contain RH-buffering media as well as pollutant/corrosion scavengers.
- (b) Use and maintain air filters and/or pollution scavengers in exhibition cases.
- (c) Anaerobic or anoxic environments may be created for special situations but are usually reserved for insect eradication.
- 4) If textiles are on open display, avoid placing them in direct air currents (e.g., incoming or return air vents).
- Appelbaum, B. 1991. Guide to environmental protection of collections. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press.
- Canadian Conservation Institute. 1992. Textiles and the environment. CCI Notes 13/1. Ottawa, Ontario,Canada: Canadian Heritage.
- Finch, K., and G. Putnam. 1977. Caring for textiles. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications.
- Giuntini, C. 1992. Storage of historic fabrics and costumes. In Conservation concerns: A guide for collectors and curators. Ed. K. Bachmann. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Grzywacz, C. M. Monitoring for gaseous pollutants in museum environments. 2006. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute.
- Guldbeck, P. E. 1985. The care of antiques and historical collections. 2d ed. Revised and expanded by A. B. MacLeish. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History.
- Hatchfield, P. B. 2002. Pollutants in the museum environment: Practical strategies for problem solving in design, exhibition and storage. London: Archetype Publications.
- Mailand, H. F., and D. S. Alig. 1999. Preserving textiles: A guide for the nonspecialist. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art.
- Ogden, S. 2000. Temperature, relative humidity, light, and air quality: Basic guidelines for preservation. Andover, Mass.: Northeast Document Conservation Center.
- Orlofsky, P. 1992. Textile conservation. In Conservation concerns: A guide for collectors and curators. Ed.K. Bachmann. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Sandwith, H., and S. Stainton, comps. 2006. The National Trust manual of housekeeping: The care of collections in historic houses open to the public. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.
- Tétrault, J. 2003. Airborne pollutants in museums, galleries, and archives: Risk assessment, control strategies, and preservation management. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Heritage.
- Thomson, G. 1986. The museum environment. 2d ed. London: Butterworths.