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Subject: Removing DDT powder

Removing DDT powder

From: Karen Caldwell <preserve>
Date: Tuesday, October 10, 1995
Penny Edmonds <pedmonds [at] mov__vic__gov__au> writes

>The Museum of  Victoria has recently identified the presence of DDT
>powder on a pair of hide moccasins from North America...
>Has anyone had experience in the handling and cleaning
>of objects afflicted with such a powder?

Preservation Services at the Australian Archives, National Office
Canberra has had a number of recent experiences with toxic
substances being found on archival material.  When a particular
government agency encountered an unknown white powder in a
collection of old volumes, they engaged the services of the
Occupational Health and Safety officer of the Australian National
University. Mr Stephen Altree-William carried out testing and
initiated a cleaning procedure for removal of DDT from the volumes.
When the volumes were later transferred to the custody of the
Australian Archives a small quantity of this pesticide remained.
Mr. Altree-Williams was again consulted and on his advice the powder
residue was removed by wiping with an acetone soaked cloth, by an
officer wearing latex gloves and working in a fume hood.  Removal of
this trace quantity was not necessary from the point of view of
toxicity  but alleviated any further staff concerns by removing any
visible traces of powder.  Further detailed information on the
original cleaning procedure can be obtained from a paper coauthored
by Altree-William.  "DDT Contamination in a Library Storeroom"
Effective Occupational Hygiene Management Conference Proceeding
1993, Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists.

Another case we have dealt with recently arose when  quantities of
white powder were found on First World War file material held in the
Australian Archives custody .  This substance was tested by Mr Zyg
Adamczyk of Australian Government Analytical Laboratories (AGAL).
Ion Chromatography confirmed that the substance was Sodium
Hexafluorosilicate and not DDT. Apparently sodium hexafluorosilicate
did not represent a serious health risk in the small quantities in
which it was found to occur on the files. However, it was felt to be
prudent to treat the substance as toxic and to have it vacuumed off
the files by staff working with latex gloves and using a fume hood.
A Nilfilsk GM 80  vacuum (with a HEPA filter) for hazardous or fine
dust was purchased and tested by AGAL to ensure that it collected
the substance properly.

High staff awareness and concern with this OH&S issue has meant many
staff discussions and reports have been written.  A standard
procedure is in place for handling this material and appears to have
minimised any potential hazards.  If you would like further
information I would be happy to provide it to you directly.

Karen Caldwell
Preservation Officer
Preservation Services
Australian Archives, National Office
PO Box 34
Dickson  ACT   2602
+61 6 209 3509
Fax: +61 6 241 7711

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:33
                 Distributed: Tuesday, October 10, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-9-33-001
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 10 October, 1995

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