The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 4
Jun 1987

Ozone Effects: Good and Bad

Ozone-generating machines can be bought for about $700 to $2500 for use in hotels, food storage and handling areas, smoke-damaged buildings and libraries with mold problems. They really do remove all sorts of smells and kill the bacteria and fungus that are causing them.

But there is a catch. Ozone does its work by aggressively oxidizing everything in sight. It is one of the worst pollutants in photochemical smog, which accelerates the deterioration of library and archival material in cities and makes them more acidic than the same material in smaller and more isolated collections. (A classic publication on this phenomenon is "Acidity of 17th & 18th century books in two libraries," by F. Lyth Hudson, in Paper Technology 8, 1967, p. 189-191.)

Caltech and the Getty Conservation Institute began a five-year project in 1984 to study the effects of chemical smog in the museum environment. One of the findings so far is that all of the alizarin-derived pigments are susceptible to fading from ozone.

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