Indoor Air Pollution Working Group Meeting 2001

IAP Copenhagen 2001 - Conference Report

Morten Ryhl-Svendsen

Conservation Department
National Museum of Denmark

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The 4th meeting of the Indoor Air Pollution Working Group (IAP Copenhagen 2001) was held on November 8-9, 2001. The meeting was organized by the Conservation Department of the National Museum of Denmark. The IAP group is an independent interest group focussing on air pollution and air quality problems in the museum environment (comprising museums, archives, libraries and historic buildings). Since the beginning of the group in 1998, meetings have been held annually.
    The meeting was open to anyone sharing an interest in museum climate, and attracted about eighty participants. The agenda was divided into four sessions, each concentrating on one of the issues: Air Physics and Chemistry, Communication and IAQ Problems, Pollution Monitoring and Control, and Particulates in Museum Air. Twenty-one presentations were divided over the two days meeting. A number of presentations are briefly summarized below.

The meeting was opened by Dario Camuffo, who, in his talk 'Microclimate: a difficult variable in museums', summarized the problems of controlling museum microclimate, due to poor HVAC design, or even due to limited technology for measuring climate parameters. The ability of controlling the indoor climate is vital for, among other things, reducing the deposition rate of pollutants on surfaces to a minimum. Failing to do so, convective motions may develop, with the result of depositing suspended particles on the room walls and ceiling at high rate via aerodynamic deposition

Presentations within the 'Air Physics and Chemistry' session dealt with issues such as surface reactions of deposited nitrogen dioxide in museum environments and its generation of nitric acid (Peter Brimblecombe), and the tendencies of copper and lead to corrode in formic acid atmospheres (Jean Tétreault). Andrew Calver discussed the role of display case ventilation in the reduction of internally generated pollutants. He presented simple methods to measure display case air exchange rate, in which CO2 or N2O was used as tracer gas monitored by occupational health data loggers.
    In the 'Communication and IAQ Problems' session, Janet Hughes reviewed a situation at the National Gallery of Australia, where there was great concern over the use of hydrogen peroxide as a sterilising agent for the air conditioning system, and its effect of this on the collection. This debate went public and resulted in a questioning in Senate, followed by an inquiry, which, among other issues raised questions to standards for air quality in museum buildings.
    The presentations in the 'Pollution Monitoring and Control' session dealt with various sampling methods. Maarten van Bommel and Jens Glastrup each described the use of SPME-GC/MS for active, short-term sampling of carbonyl pollutants. Franco de Santis presented the use of passive samplers for NO2, NOx, SO2, HONO and O3 in conjunction with the European 5th Framework Project 'Microclimate Indoor Monitoring in Cultural Heritage Preservation' (MIMIC). Also connected to the MIMIC project, Marianne Odlyha presented the development of a damage assessment dosimeter, based on piezoelectric quartz crystals coated with tempera paints. The 'Particulates in Museum Air' session included a talk on a dust level and composition survey at the National Museum of Denmark (Anne Lisbeth Schmidt & Kåre Kemp), where dust levels were compared between an air conditioned gallery, a naturally ventilated gallery, and outside the museum (high rate of urban traffic). William Esposito, who unfortunately couldn't be present, had his paper 'Particle Profiles and Filtration Effciency in Museums' read out. Esposito's paper presented a method to evaluate a HVAC filter packs effciency by its ability to filter out polystyrene microspheres. This was illustrated in a study of the HVAC filters in three New York City cultural institutions.

Participants represented a great number of nations, and within these many different cultural and educational institutions. Representatives from various other indoor climate working groups were also present. It was interesting for the participants to be updated with the current state-of-science in Japan, regarding museum climate and preventive conservation. A special thank goes to Chie Sano from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo, who accepted to present a paper on this subject on very short notice.
    Likewise, it was very informative to be presented with a report from a workshop at CLIMA2000, a conference held by 'Representatives of European Heating and Ventilating Associations' (REHVA) two months earlier in Italy. This was presented by Livio de Santoli, who organized that workshop. There are several working groups "out there" from different fields, but with related agendas about indoor air quality in museums or historic buildings. It will prove beneficial to attend each others' meetings and to strengthen contact between the groups. This way the overlap of specializations between groups can be avoided; it will also be rewarding to discuss problems from the viewpoint held by different groups.

The effect of such a meeting to the local conservation community should not be underestimated. More than half of the participants were from Scandinavia, and it is certain that the professional awareness in our region to museum indoor air pollution problems has received a boost. And while it was a great joy to meet many familiar faces, it was especially pleasing that so many new people showed a sincere interest in museum environment issues and joined the IAP meeting.

This meeting could only turn into reality because of the big support I received from the Conservation Department at the National Museum of Denmark. On behalf of the Indoor Air Pollution Working Group, I wish to thank director Jørgen Nordqvist, and head of laboratory Mads Chr. Christensen, for the wholehearted encouragement they gave me from the very first day when I presented to them the idea of hosting the IAP 2001 meeting in Denmark. Likewise, I would like to thank the Conservation Department for the financial support, which made the meeting possible.

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Index of presentations at IAP 2001 meeting

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