Embrittlement is the condition of an object in which it has lost ductility and become susceptible to cracking, crumbling, or breaking. The state of embrittlement in an object can be visibly perceived, as the object will be in a drastic state of disrepair.
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A number of factors can led to the embrittlement of objects, many of them environmental. Direct ultraviolet light exposure, high temperature, and pollutants are all causes of embrittlement. In materials such as paper, embrittlement is the loss of support to the point at which the paper can no longer handle stress and becomes fragile enough to snap or crumble. This is often a problem in paper, as the natural elements in wood become unstable when changed to pulp form, resulting in an acidic reaction. Acid-free mats and paper are extremely important in contemporary collections care for thisreason (Oppenheimer,2008).
Embrittlement due to acidity in paper can also be caused by manufacturing additives, media type, and quality of framing or storage. Some preventative treatments for paper artifacts are immersion bathing,blotter washing, and alkalization – or the process of applying buffering solutions to the artifacts to neutralize acids and prevent them from appearing in the future (ClevelandConservation, n.d.).
References[edit | edit source]
Joel Oppenheimer Inc. (2008). Art restoration and conservation expert conservators specializing in fine art restoration of works of art onpaper, paintings and photographs. Retrieved from http://www.audubonart.com/txtrest3.asp
Cleveland Conservation of Arts on Paper. (n.d.).Acid and Embrittlement. Retrieved from http://www.conservationofpaper.com/acid.html