Mold (biological infestation)

From Wiki


Mold is a growth of various kinds of fungi, producing a furry mass on a surface of materials.

Book cover suffering from mold after becoming wet during a flood. Image courtesy of the Irvington History Center

Related Terms

mildew, fungi

Synonyms in English

Translation

English mold
French moisissure
Spanish moho
Portuguese bolor
Italian muffa
German Schimmel
Russian плесень
Arabic تَعَفّن

Discussion

A more in-depth glossary of mold-related terms is included as part of the Book and Paper Group Wiki's page on Mold.

Mold, a common term for fungal growth, is one of the most serious sources of destruction and damage to library, archival, and museum collections. Mold is attracted to numerous organic materials found in these collections. These materials include the starches found on adhesives, sizings, and cloth; proteins such as leather, parchment, gelatin, and animal glues; and cellulose, a main component of paper. Artifacts that include books, documents, art on paper, photographs, and other paper based products are susceptible to mold. Textiles are also susceptible especially those made of cotton, linen, or leather.

Although not always visual to the naked eye, mold spores are everywhere and with the right environmental conditions, they will germinate. Mold flourishes in environments that have high humidity, warm temperatures, poor air circulation, dim light, and/or accumulated dirt. A characteristic musty order being detected is the first indication of a mold issue. Stains on the surface of an object are also an indication of mold. Mold can appear in a numerous array of colors with a velvety growth or a powdery deposit.

Mold can permanently damage an object by weakening and compromising it. Due to its tendency to stain a material, certain objects may have surface stains that cannot be erased. Once an object has been weakened by mold, it is more accessible to future damage because it becomes more porous and fragile resulting in an easier absorption of damaging water. Often paper artifacts damaged by mold experience “foxing” or scattered/freckled spotting. Prevention is key to neutralizing the threat of mold to a collection. To do so, the environment must be made inhospitable for mold germination. Monitoring and regulating the relative humidity of a space containing susceptible objects as well as an environments temperature is essential to preventing mold.

Treatments range depending on the size of the affected area as well as its progression. Isolating the object and removing it from a high traffic area is key to preventing pores from spreading. Some methods employed by conservators to deactivate mold include air drying at a lower temperature, freeze drying, exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight, vacuuming, chemical eradication, and gamma radiation.

References

“Managing a Mold Invasion: Guidelines for Disaster Response” Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA): 2013. http://www.ccaha.org/uploads/media_items/managing-a-mold-invasion-guidelines-for-disaster-response.original.pdf

“Mold (condition).” 2000. Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust. http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies/aat/.

“Mold (fungus).” 2000. Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust. http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies/aat/.

“Mold (fungus).” 2012. CAMEO:Conservation and Art Material Encyclopedia Online. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. http://cameo.mfa.org/.

“Mold and Mildew” Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute. http://www.si.edu/mci/english/learn_more/taking_care/mnm.html

“Mold: Prevention of Growth in Museum Collections”. Conserve-O Gram. National Park Service: August 2007. https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/03-04.pdf


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