UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage



IMPACT: Innovative Modelling of Museum Pollution and Conservation Thresholds

Research Issues

The ability to predict concentrations of damaging pollutants reduces the need to make actual pollution measurements in buildings that is a time-consuming and expensive task. While monitoring is feasible for large, well-funded organisations, monitoring may not be practical for smaller less well-resourced museums that may be equally concerned about pollution risks.

Research Objectives

The main objective of IMPACT was to produce a web-based software tool to assist museums, galleries and archives in making sensible decisions about the risks posed to their collections by air pollution.


University College London

Professor May Cassar, Centre for Sustainable Heritage
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Project Partners

IMPACT is a European Commission 5th Framework Programme scientific research project (contract number EVK4-CT-2000-00031) led by the Centre for Sustainable Heritage at University College London in partnership with:

Norwegian Institute for Air Research
University of East Anglia
Emcel Filters Ltd
National Museum of Krakow
Poland and Architecture Project 


At the heart of this tool is a computer model to predict the concentration of the main damaging pollutants from external sources: sulphur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide inside museum buildings. These predictions are based on knowledge of external pollutant concentrations from government monitoring networks combined with a range of building parameters such as construction materials, room layout and ventilation systems.

The second part of the software tool gives information on the types of damage that particular pollutants can cause to specific materials. It gives published data on the concentrations at which these effects are likely to become noticeable. It suggests a range of pollution mitigation strategies that could be applied when risk of damage has been identified. Although the main focus is on damaging pollutants from the external environment, information is also provided on pollutants generated indoors, such as carbonyl compounds.

Access the IMPACT Software Tool


Blades, N., Kruppa, D. and Cassar, M. (2002) 'Development of a Web-based toolfor predicting the occurence and effect of air pollutants inside museum buildings', ICOM-CC 13th Triennial, Rio de Janeiro, ed.s R. Vontobel, London: James and James, pp. 9-14