Health and safety concerns in the paintings conservation studio

Authored by: Monona Rossol , Mary McGinn , Joyce H. Townsend

Conservation of Easel Paintings

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367023799
eBook ISBN: 9780429399916
Adobe ISBN:


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Solvents, acids and bases, natural and synthetic adhesives, ammonia, surfactants, and many other toxic chemicals are used in the paintings conservation laboratory. Other potentially toxic substances conservators may come in contact with include dusts from deteriorating canvas, animal glue, and framing; mould, bacteria, old treatment chemicals; and flaking paint that may contain heavy metals including lead, arsenic, and mercury. There are new cleaning and preservation methods which may present new hazards. For example, YAG lasers vaporise contaminants from the surfaces of paintings and create aerosols which may be toxic to inhale. New nanoparticle as well as more traditional gelling agents may present hazards. Since the 1980s, there have been a series of binding regulations in most countries to protect workers from hazardous materials.

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