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Subject: Health hazards in archives collections

Health hazards in archives collections

From: Michael Trinkley <chicora1>
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 1998
Ms. Goldberg reports that employees at a Washington, DC institution
are reporting rashes, etc. from handling ca. 1950-1960 papers and
asks for comments.

Of course the potential causes, especially given the available
information are extraordinary. However, from a pest control
perspective, looking for horses and avoiding zebras, there are a few
possibilities, including a wide range of bird mites. Depending on
storage conditions mites, there are several bird mites, which may be
associated; there are also a number of mites associated with fungus
(again, very dependent on storage conditions. During the 1950s there
was a condition known as "grocer's itch," caused by a mite
associated with the brown paper bags used at the time.

Alternatively, in the pest control business it is also well
recognized that many of the described symptoms may be entirely
psychosomatic. In addition, there are some accounts associated with
paper "dust," such as that generated by tractor feeds, or accounts
of rock wool from insulation causing similar complaints.

Bottom line, I suspect that there is just too little information
supplied. What is needed is careful inspection of the workplace,
examination of the documents, and trapping of pests, perhaps
associated with medical surveillance, in order to evaluate the cause
of the problem. Best,

Michael Trinkley, Ph.D.
Director
Chicora Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 8664
Columbia, SC  29202-8664
803-787-6910

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:38
                Distributed: Thursday, October 22, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-38-006
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 20 October, 1998

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