UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Is chemical air filtration in libraries and archives worth the money?

26 August 2014

air filtration

There is a long history of research into degradation of historic paper in polluted environments, justified by historically high concentrations of traffic-generated pollutants in urban environments. However, with the decrease of pollutant gases in post-industrial countries, as experienced in the last 30 years, is investment into chemical air filtration in archives and libraries still money well spent?

Ground-breaking research, carried out by ISH PhD student Eva Menart, in collaboration with the Dutch National Archives (The Hague), has shown that in the context of long-term storage, the overall contribution of NO2 and acetic acid to the degradation induced by heat and relative humidity is very small to negligible. 

For the first time, this research looked at historic paper samples and compared the effect of pollutants to the effect of temperature and relative humidity,  the control of which has been shown to lead to more benefits than pollution control at a lower financial and environmental cost.

Find out more about the project on this website.