Thursday, November 24, 2011

Air pollution proves to be a challenge for art conservators protecting masterpieces

Art restoration and conservation can be
impacted by indoor and outdoor air pollutants.
Some artists’ masterpieces have survived long decades or centuries and wars, but they are now facing a much graver threat: Damage from air pollution.

One such example is Da Vinci’s Last Supper in the refectory of Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church in Milan, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

In order to conserve the painting and keep pollution to a minimum, officials installed a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

University of Southern California researchers were called to monitor the air quality at the site because their air samplers are quite and compact and don’t disturb visitors.

The monitoring showed that air pollution inside the church has been dramatically reduced, especially with respect to fine and coarse particulate matter. These were reduced by 88 and 94 percent respectively, from corresponding outdoor levels.

The next challenge will be indoor sources of pollution, the researchers warn, which often comes from the visitors themselves.

Even though the number of visitors and the length of visits is strictly regulated, the airborne lipids coming from visitors skin still appeared in significant quantities around the painting. They can mix with dust and soil the masterpiece, the authors warn.

The painting itself may also emit tiny particles of wax that was used in previous repair efforts.
Source: University of Southern California

Electrocorp's CleanBreeze 2
Stand-alone air cleaners for art conservation and restoration

For paintings and collection pieces at risk of soiling or damage from indoor air pollutants, Electrocorp has designed highly efficient portable air cleaners for art conservation and restoration, with a flexible arm and source capture attachment to keep the air as clean as possible.

The air cleaners remove a wide range of indoor air pollutants, including chemicals, VOCs, gases, fumes, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and molds with an activated carbon + HEPA filter combination.

Exclusive carbon blends are available to target specific contaminants and the units feature many other customizable options that can help conserve the artifacts.

Contact Electrocorp for more information: 1-866-667-0297.

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