Conservation Removing mold documents

Recently, I was offered a fine old document from the early 17th Century but it was infected by mold. Here comes a comprehensive article from the NSW State Archive and Records about mold and how to treat mold.

What is mold?

Mold is a generic name often applied to various types of fungi that grow on the surfaces of materials such as fabrics, paper, food, and leather. They are multicellular organisms that send filaments through the materials they grow on and produce enzymes to break down their food. Molds reproduce through the production of small spores which are carried through the air and deposited on surfaces – these spores are in the air all the time and cannot be eliminated from storage areas. Given the right conditions, these spores will germinate and grow. Conservation Removing mold documents

Conservation Removing mold documents
Example from my collection: Prussian passport 1806 issued in Berlin for negotiator Adolphe Huelsenbeck, possibly for the Confederated States of the Rhine.

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Before you begin

Removing mold can be difficult, dirty and time-consuming. Mold remediation should not be undertaken lightly – especially where large quantities of records are affected. If you find mold growing on any of your records it is first important to determine the extent of the problem.

Small quantities of records can be dealt with fairly easily, but large quantities are usually best left to professional remediation companies. This is both because the work is dirty and repetitive, but also if not cleaned properly the mold can spread and cause more problems. It is important to determine whether your mold is dead or alive before doing any cleaning. Live mold is more difficult to remove and will smear easily. If the mold is alive it also indicates that the environmental conditions of the storage area continue to be unacceptable. Conservation Removing mold documents

If you are dealing with a discrete and fairly small outbreak it is preferable to isolate the affected records from the rest of your collection. Place affected materials into plastic bags or air-tight plastic tubs and remove them to a dry, well-ventilated space where they can be cleaned.

Read the full article…

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