Pigment analysis with Ruth Siddall, Geo-Archeologist (UCL)

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Ruth Siddall is a Geo-Archeologist who has been working at UCL for the past 20 years. Ruth came on board the bus to do a pigment analysis of the red and white paint on the toy car. She was testing to see what evidence there was of lead in the paint. She started by showing how Flake White Paint, which was used in the past to whiten the face, has high levels of lead in it. She added acetic acid to get a fizzing reaction, and then added potassium iodide which is a salt. This turned the sample bright yellow. When it came to testing the white paint of the car, there was little reaction, as for the red. However, it later yellowed a little.

Ruth suggested that as described by the car's object description for the Pathology Collection, the percentage of lead in the paint was low. Ruth then took further samples to put them under the microscope in her lab to look for evidence of lead. What she thought would reveal itself would be the presence of bright green spots which suggest lead presence. She comes back tomorrow to let us know! You can hear an interview with Ruth about her own research and its applications, such as the analysis of Roman murals and the way the paint used in them suggest trading networks.

Follow the uploaded images and audio interview.