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Subject: Arsenic in natural history collections

Arsenic in natural history collections

From: Thomas Dixon <dixon-tom<-a>
Date: Sunday, August 10, 2008
Jane Pudsey <jane.pudsey [at] coventry__gov__uk> writes

>Can anyone advise us of a specification for an extract system that
>would remove arsenic particles disturbed whilst handling Natural
>History specimens? Due to space constraints, this will need to be an
>over-head hood type.

If you haven't already, do check out publications on handling
arsenic contaminated cultural materials such as the

    Erica E. Henry
    "The Merckoquant 10026 Arsenic Test for Natural History
    Collections"
    WAAC Newsletter Vol 18, No. 1, January 1996
    <URL:http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/
        waac/wn/wn18/wn18-1/wn18-107.html>

and

    Anthony Knapp
    "Arsenic Health and Safety Update"
    National Park Service Conservogram September 2000
    <URL:http://www.nps.gov/
        history/museum/publications/conserveogram/02-03.pdf>

    **** Moderator's comments: The above URLs have been wrapped for
    email. There should be no newlines.

As arsenic is a fairly heavy material, an overhead extraction system
is not going to be very effective.  Proper personal protection
equipment isn't very expensive and will provide much better
protection.

If you are still concerned about arsenic contamination, an air
curtain type hood or alternately a bottom drawing fume cupboard
could easily be fabricated. I describe a similar walk in downdraft
"varnishing cabinet" in a paper published by IIC in "Modern Art- New
Museums" 2004.  The main issues would then be cleaning the equipment
after use--which still requires personal protection equipment--and
appropriate labeling, transport and disposal of the arsenic
contaminated filters.

Thomas Dixon
Melbourne Australia


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