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A review of health hazards linked to the use of lasers for stone cleaning

: Vergès-Belmin, V.; Wiedemann, G.; Weber, L.; Cooper, M.; Crump, D.; Gouerne, R.

Journal of cultural heritage 4 (2003), Supp.1, pp.33s-37s
ISSN: 1296-2074
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IWS ()

On of the rapidly growing applications of lasers lies in the filed of artwork conservation. Stone cleaning , using Nd-YAG Q-switched lasers (l =1.06 µm), has increased significantly in the past 5 years. Higher cleaning rates can be obtained at lower costs by using increasingly powerful lasers. The tendency is to extend the field of application from the cleaning of individual artworks to the cleaning of larger areas such as entire building façades. At the moment, no systematic approach for risk assessment of laser hazards is available: with higher power, faster cleaning rates and diversification of cleaned substrates, there will be a corresponding or even progressive increase of persons at risk. Until now, only sporadic measurements have been performed in order to quantify potentially hazardous emissions from stone due to laser cleaning. This contrasts with the large number of studies already published on health hazards linked to laser use for medical and industrial applications. Although laser safety within the European Union is covered by a common standard, EN 60825, we still lack specific adaptations of this standard to the field of artwork conservation. We describe briefly in this report both the current knowledge and the gaps to be filled.