Occurrence of organic and inorganic biocides in the museum environment
In the museum environment organic and inorganic chemicals can be found, which originate from both outside and inside the building. Many of the contaminants may cause adverse effects on works of art and human health, but in the past, pollution research in museums has focused on the protection of artifacts, while the risk assessment for humans has been neglected. Especially, the application of biocides leads to a conflict of interest: on the one hand cultural assets have to be protected against microorganisms, insects and rodents while on the other hand it is essential to provide healthy conditions for museum staff and visitors. It has recently been shown that the release of organic indoor pollutants from building products is one of the main reasons for deterioration of artifacts. In this work, we present the results of screening measurements on biocides in different locations of German museums. The major components that could be identified were DDT, PCP, lindane, methoxychlor, naphthalene, chlorinated naphthalenes, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, PCBs and arsenic. It is demonstrated that the application of chlorinated organic compounds and arsenic for preventive conservation is one of the prime reasons for indoor pollution in museums and provides a potential for exposure. However, the concentrations in air, dust and material are widely different and a health risk for humans has to be evaluated case by case.