Monitoring the accumulated water soluble airborne compounds deposited on surfaces of showcases and walls in museums, archives and historical buildings

Cultural heritage objects are subject to the deposition of a multitude of airborne pollutants even when kept inside museums, archives, historical buildings or showcases. Some of the pollutants are quickly deposited onto any available surface, including the interior walls and CH objects themselves.

This might make the compounds seem absent from analyses of indoor air samples.Context and purpose of the studyA new method of detecting water soluble pollutants without taking samples from the interior walls or from the CH objects themselves has been developed. The method involves sampling the pollutants accumulated on a surface near the CH object, e.g.

a nearby wall or an interior glass surface of a showcase. The samples were obtained by gently flushing the surface with deionised water to collect the ions readily removed from the surface.

The method was tested on a variety of surfaces.Results and main findingsThe flushed water were analysed with IC (Ion Chromatography) and ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) and included ions of Al, As, Ba, Ca, CH 3 COOH, Cl, Co, (COOH) 2 , Cr, Cu, F, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, NH 4 , Ni, Pb, S, Sb, Si, Sn, Sr, Ti and Zn, and the ions NO 3 ?, PO 4 3?, and SO 4 2?. The resulting concentrations were converted to µEq, providing the ionic balance and the relative amounts of the ions and elements present.

Ionic balance was observed on smooth and inert surfaces, but in some cases the chemistry of the wall contributed to the flush water. Solid samples of some of the surfaces have been analysed by XRF to clarify these more complex situations.

Conclusions: Clear results appear from smooth or well defined surfaces, whereas more complex situations arise when the underlying surface itself contributes to the flush water.

The method is working very well and is easy and cheap to implement by curators and conservators, who can the send the flush water to specialized laboratories.Brief summaryA new methodology capable of monitoring the accumulated airborne deposits on surfaces in showcases and historic buildings is presented and tested. The method is cheap and is easy to implement by curators and conservators and allows the assessment of threats to the CH objects which are not always observed by analyses of the indoor air.Graphical abstractA novel method is presented detecting water soluble airborne pollutants without taking samples of the cultural heritage objects themselves.

Left: schematic diagram depicting the sampling method. a Handheld squeeze bottle; b funnel made from aluminum foil to collect the flushed water; c plastic bottle collecting the flushed water; right: applying the flush water on the interior glass wall of a show case (Photo: Kaare Lund Rasmussen)

Published on: 2017-01-10

Made available by EUPB via SpringerOpen / BioMedCentral. Please make sure to read our disclaimer prior to contacting 7thSpace Interactive. To contact our editors, visit our online helpdesk. To submit your press release click here. The full research and author details are available at


Custom Search


© 2018 7thSpace Interactive
All Rights Reserved - About | Disclaimer | Helpdesk