Risk Management > Contaminants

Definition

"Contaminants is the term used to describe chemical agents from the museum environment that can cause some alteration of museum objects. Contaminants can be in the form of gases, liquids, or solids. Gaseous contaminants are frequently considered to be pollutants, although the source of the gas may be external industrial and vehicle emissions (e.g., sulphur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide), gases emitted by materials within the museum (e.g., vapours given off by wood, coatings, or other artifacts), or oxygen present in the atmosphere. Liquids that might contaminate museum objects include plasticizers migrating from plastics, and grease deposited by improper handling. The most common solid contaminants are salt (either airborne or from handling) and dust. Contaminants can result in complete destruction of an artifact over a prolonged period of time, but more often result in some disfigurement of the artifact."

Costain, Charlie. Framework for Preservation of Museum Collections, Canadian Heritage, 1994.

 

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