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Subject: Pigeon droppings

Pigeon droppings

From: Richard O. Byrne <robyrne<-a>
Date: Saturday, November 29, 2008
Melissa Heaver <mmheaver [at] firemuseummd__org> writes

>I am working on a project where the County is hiring a company to
>come in and remove all the pigeon droppings in a barn exhibit space
>we have. We had an influx of pigeons over the spring and summer, but
>the hole was found and all birds removed. However, there is a fair
>amount of "material" on the floors, beams, etc.
>
>However, the pigeons roosted on a beam over an 1870s carriage, and
>while the top of the vehicle and 2 of the seats were protected, the
>driver's seat and foot plate are now white with droppings. The
>contractors who are bidding on the project have done other work for
>the County, but have never had to deal with museum artifacts. Since
>the carriage has a leather seat, I am unsure what to advise them to
>use during clean-up. Can anyone advise me on this subject, or steer
>me in the right direction for written materials on this subject?
>I've had little luck online with my usual sources.

You are right, there is little out there on the problems of cleaning
up pigeon droppings. While working for the heritage branch of Parks
Canada 20 years ago I did a white paper study on the problems for
them; and then, wrote the specification, and supervised the removal
of four metric tons of the stuff from a 1840ish stone mill being
converted into a museum in Smith Falls, Ontario. In the dead of
summer we put 5 men to work with HEPA filtered airlines, white
suits, showers etc over a 5 week period of time to clean the
building and then sterilize it. In the process we went through $1000
worth of Gatorade. We did the job without a scratch and it was one
of the most hazardous projects you can imagine. If you are not
familiar with the hazards of Cryptococcus and Histoplasmosis I would
suggest a review of these mycotic diseases before moving forward.
They can be deadly. I doubt your "contractor" has any idea what they
might be getting into, the hazards and the associated costs.

Removing the poop from the leather seat and floor plate is the least
of your problems. I could dig in my files and pull some items if it
would help you get started.

Richard O. Byrne
Consultant Architectural Conservator


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:35
                 Distributed: Monday, December 8, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-35-009
                                  ***
Received on Saturday, 29 November, 2008

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