ASEPTIC TECHNIQUE: A GOAL TO STRIVE FOR IN COLLECTION RECOVERY OF MOLDY ARCHIVAL MATERIALS AND ARTIFACTS
MARY-LOU E. FLORIAN
1 1. INTRODUCTION
When one is working with pure cultures of strains of fungi in mycological research, it is essential that the cultures not be contaminated by airborne conidia or by nonsterile tools or materials used in the culturing technique. This essential condition is accomplished by an aseptic technique that involves the use of sterile materials and procedures in all activities. If toxic fungi are involved, masks, garments, gloves and a fume hood in which the air is drawn away from the worker into high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters will reduce health hazards. A type 2 laminar flow hood is often used.
But when a conservator is confronted with the recovery of a moldy heritage collection or group of objects, many issues have to be considered. We are directed in our collection recovery treatments and procedures by professional ethics and our knowledge of the objects' materials, preciousness, and fragility. We are also concerned about health issues and cross-contamination of objects. Although it is impossible to attain a completely aseptic technique because of open sites and often large numbers of objects, the aseptic technique is a great advance in conservation methods and something to strive for.
As conservators, our goals are to prevent fungal cross-contamination from moldy to nonmoldy objects, to reduce future fungal problems, to obtain successful decontamination and cleaning of the object, and to prevent an increase in the level of airborne conidia in the work site so as to reduce health hazards and hazards for other objects.