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Health & Safety Network Conservation Wiki
Copyright: 2020. The Health & Safety Wiki pages are a publication of the Health & Safety Network of the American Institute for Conservation.
Some of the information included on this wiki may be out of date, particularly with regard to toxicological data and regulatory standards. Also, because new information on safety issues is continually published, resources outside of AIC should be consulted for more specific information.
Contributors: Kerith Koss Schrager, Tara Kennedy
- Hazards in Collections eTool (Museum of London) (link active as of August 2020)
This tool will help you learn about commonly encountered health hazards found in some museum collections.
- Hazardous Holdings: AIC Archives Discussion Group(AIC News September 2005 (30:5) 1, 11–13)
Panel members provided images and descriptions of hazards and outlined resources for devising methods for handling hazardous materials safely. Summaries of some of these situations are found in this article, along with answers to some of the questions that discussants found they had in common.
Managing Collection Hazards
- Arsenic and Old Lace: Controlling Hazardous Collection Materials (Webinar) Presented by Kerith Koss Schrager, Kathy Makos and Anne-Kingery Schwartz. May 2016 (Watch Presentation)
A comprehensive presentation encompassing different types of collection hazards including pesticides, medicinal and pharmaceutical collections, radiation, and others. Presented to a wide audience on Connecting to Collections Care.
The following procedures will help create a risk management plan for the safe handling of hazardous collection materials objects.
- HEPA HEPA HEPA(AIC News January 2002 (27:1) 24)
This short H&S article talks about HEPA and ULPA vacuum filtration for cleaning and managing hazards.
- From Cradle to Grave: Waste Management for Conservators (Health & Safety Guide, May 2012)
This article summarizes federal and state regulations applying to the disposal of hazardous materials, and how to safely dispose of chemicals and other toxic materials that conservators may encounter during treatment.
- Recovered from Disaster Sites: Health and Safety Tips for Conservators (AIC News January 2018 (43:1) 18)
Article discussing different possible contaminants that could be found on collections recovered from disaster sites, such as the World Trade Center, and the health and safety precautions necessary to clean and treat them safely. Includes information about collections containing asbestos.
- Tin-Mercury Amalgam Mirrors (AIC News January 2013 (48:1) 12-15)
Comprehensive article concerning identification and handling of tin-mercury amalgam mirrors. Also provides information on elemental mercury clean-up, disposal, and mercury detection and spill supplies.
- Heavy Metals, their Salts, and other Compounds (Health & Safety Guide - last update June 2010)
Extensive article defining heavy metals, detection methods, and health and safety considerations. Includes separate sections about mercury and arsine (arsenic gas).
- Mythbusting Mold: Ten Facts You Should Know ( AIC News September 2015 (40:5) 14-15)
General facts about mold: how it forms, how it can adversely affect our health, and why it is difficult to eliminate.
- Mold: Evaluation of Risk and Decontamination (AIC News September 2004 (29:5) 1, 3–4, 7)
Extensive article by a certified industrial hygienist about mold, its toxicology, evaluating mold presence and exposure assessment, remediation activities, and the effectiveness of decontamination.
The following resources will help create a risk management plan for the safe handling of pesticide-contaminated objects. Contamination includes all current pesticide treatments, legacy hazards from historic treatments, and toxic elements inherent to the collection.
- Health and Safety Technical Resources on Pesticides for the Conservator (Health & Safety Guide)
This resource guide is references listed in thirteen sub-categories, which are grouped into three broader sections. The first section consists of general pesticide resources, directories, references about pesticides and museums, and pesticide use history. The second section is references and resources pertaining to health, safety, and toxicology; legislation and regulatory information; and pesticide analysis and mitigation. The third section pertains to specific classes of pesticides, such as inorganic and organochlorine.
Medicinal & Pharmaceutical Collections
- Please Read the Warning Label: Care of Historic Pharmacy Collections (AIC News September 2018 (43:5) 1, 4)
- Health Hazards for the Recovery of Cultural Property Affected by Oil Spills(AIC News May 2011 (36:3) 11-14)
- The Hidden Hazards of Fire Soot(AIC News September 2010 (35:5) 1, 3-5)
- A Practical Guide for Work with Bird Droppings and Roosts(AIC News July 2003 (28:4) 17–20)
- Rare but There: Microorganisms(AIC News March 2012 (37:2) 13)
- NIOSH Sets Exposure Limits for Nano-Titanium Dioxide(AIC News September 2011 (36:5) 14-16)