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Re: Colophon Info/formaldehyde
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: Colophon Info/formaldehyde
- From: "Jack C. Thompson" <tcl@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 00:50:54 -0800
- Message-id: <199711150824.AAA19576@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Let's not get too upset here.
If you open a container of PVA and take a sniff don't be surprised if you
smell a whiff of formaldehyde. That is what gives a reasonable shelf life
to PVA's. I purchase a pint of PVA each year. I just went to the part of
the lab where PVA's are stored and saw that the oldest container was dated
1993 (don't check your labels; I write the month/year on each label upon
In general, PVA's are said to have a shelf life of 6 months. Even with a
bit of formaldehyde. In fact, unless they are allowed to stay in a warm
environment, they will last for years.
Formaldehyde is an interesting chemical. If you die and your blood is
removed to be replaced with formaldehyde, your body will remain, more or
less, unchanged for centuries. When I served overseas in the US Navy
during the 1960's we carried cases of beer in the ship. The beer smelled
strongly of formaldehyde. We drank the beer. We are still here. Alive.
During the late 1980's through the early 1990's I served as chair of my
neighborhood association's solid & toxic waste subcomittee. One of the
things which I learned during my tenure in this post is that some people
are sensitive to any number of chemicals to which we are exposed in our
daily life. And some are not.
If you discover that you are sensitive to formaldehyde, stay away from
PVA's. Learn to use hide glue and starch pastes. They've worked for
centuries. These adhesives do not have the same sort of tack and open
time, but they work, and if you learn to work with them, they will allow
you to accomplish anything you need to do.
Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR 97217
www.teleport.com/~tcl The lyf so short; the craft so long to lerne
Chaucer, _The Parlement of Foules_ 1386 AD