TSG Chapter III. Environmental Concerns for Textiles - Section B. Air Quality
Originally drafted by Sarah C. Stevens. Contributions from: 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. Original content date: April 2, 1998.
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Factors to consider
- Particulate soils: Dust, dirt, grit, etc.
- Sources of particulate soils
- Soils are brought in from the outside by people, through open windows, and by insufficiently filtered HVAC systems.
- Within a building, carpeting and standard acoustical ceiling tiles are sources of particulate matter.
- Construction, renovation, or exhibit building projects within the museum generate particulate soils.
- Problems and damage from particulate soils
- Soiling can be visually disturbing.
- Soils may attract and hold moisture and lead to growth of biological organisms.
- Abrasiveness of soils can result in mechanical damage.
- The combination of acidic particulate soils and high RH may accelerate damage in acid-sensitive textiles.
- Gaseous pollutants: acidic gases, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, or oxidants such as ozone
- Sources of gaseous pollution
- 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.
- Gaseous pollution within buildings come from various sources.
- Damaging volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are generated from many building materials, such as vinyl flooring, carpeting and carpet pads, urea formaldehyde-containing wood products, adhesives, paints, gasketing materials, plastics, fabric finishes, and some cleaning products.
- Gaseous pollutants can come from kitchen exhaust systems.
- Gaseous pollutants may come from heating systems, especially oil-fired furnaces or boilers.
- Ozone can come from electrostatic precipitators in the building’s HVAC system, electronic air cleaners, laser printers, and photocopy machines.
- Gaseous pollutants inside cases are usually generated by the case materials, but can also come from the object(s) displayed in the case.
- Problems and damage from gaseous pollutants
- Gaseous pollutants can alter the pH of an artifact, thereby contributing to fiber breakdown.
- Gaseous pollutants can alter dyes.
- Damage from gaseous pollutants can be accelerated by high RH.
- Reduce particulate and gaseous pollutants entering the building by using particulate and gaseous filters on HVAC systems/units.
- Carefully select all building and exhibit materials and finishes to be nonpolluting, ideally working with a museum environmental consultant or selecting “green” architectural products.
- Protect textiles within the building from pollutants and particulates.
- Use good housekeeping methods.
- Use HEPA vacuums to maintain galleries and storage areas.
- Use door mats at entrances to reduce dirt from shoes.
- Remove carpeting from galleries. If carpeting must be used, static-reducing carpets (that test below 3.5 kv) are a better choice.
- Clean dust mops after use; use HEPA vacuum to clean the mops.
- Do not use brooms or sweeping motions.
- Keep all stored textiles in closed storage containers/furniture. See VIII.B: Storage Furniture and VIII.C: Storage Materials
- Display textiles in cases or glazed frames whenever possible.
- Microclimates can be created within sealed frames that contain RH-buffering media as well as pollutant/corrosion scavengers.
- Use and maintain air filters and/or pollution scavengers in exhibition cases.
- Anaerobic or anoxic environments may be created for special situations but are usually reserved for insect eradication.
- If textiles are on open display, avoid placing them in direct air currents (e.g., incoming or return air vents).
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