STANDARD 18: Mitigating Pollutant Hazards

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STANDARD 18: Mitigating Pollutant Hazards
Appropriate measures [design, hardware and policies] must protect objects from exposure to pollutants
OR: The exhibit design must provide exhibit objects the required level of protection from exposure to pollutants


[Placeholder introduction]
Pollutants come in the form of either particulates or chemical contaminants. These can corrode or abrade museum objects and even harbor insects and mold.

Particulate pollution—the “dust” in the air around us—can be generated by industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, construction soil, mold, wear and tear of fabrics, etc. It is drawn into a building through natural ventilation and the environmental control systems. It is also generated by the day-to-day activities of the museum, such as visitor traffic and exhibit construction. Particulate matter is therefore a complex mixture, often including airborne soil, carbon soot, textile fibers, microorganisms, and protein materials. This combination can be very damaging to collection objects since it is abrasive, attracts moisture, and encourages insects, fungi, and mold.

Chemical contaminants in a museum also originate from both external and internal sources. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine compounds, and ozone are some of the potentially harmful chemical pollutants commonly found in the exterior environment. Within the museum, construction and design materials may emit chemical vapors such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds. These chemical vapors can react with collection objects, causing corrosion…[Any problems from chemicals used for cleaning or pesticides?]

Strategies to reduce pollutants must prevent pollutants entering the museum from the outside environment and eliminate sources of pollutants within the museum itself. A variety of tools is available: hardware and controls that filter the air; design strategies that prevent the build-up of pollutants and avoid use of polluting materials; and museum policies that reduce pollutants within the museum environment.

Elevated or fluctuating relative humidity and temperature can interact with pollutants to exacerbate their ill effect on object health. Therefore, efforts to control pollutants must include management of relative humidity and temperature. Utilizing the appropriate hardware in the design of the exhibit space is an important strategy for moderating pollutants, RH and temperature.

Guideline 18.1: Hardware and controls that reduce particulates and chemical pollutants are utilized

What are the sources of particulates and chemical pollutants?
How can air filtration and the air handling system be used to reduce particulates and chemical pollutants?
What air filters are appropriate for use in exhibits?


Guideline 18.2: Exhibit design strategies protect objects from particulates and chemical pollutants

How can exhibit cases be used to protect exhibit objects from particulates and chemical pollutants?
What design strategies help decrease object damage from particulates and chemical pollutants?


Guideline 18.3: Museum policies are instituted to protect objects from particulates and chemical pollutants

What museum practices can assist in protecting objects from particulates and chemical pollutants?