Riverdale, NJ -- When you enter a museum, you often feel as if you’ve entered a different world, but unfortunately the air quality in museums is not always at a good level for human health and for the preservation of priceless artifacts. But there are several reasons why the indoor air quality in a museum is not just a matter of proper ventilation, because when other air quality control factors are not considered there are some real-life consequences.
“Museums have a unique and important place in our culture,” stated Lynne Laake VP of Marketing. “But without a comprehensive air filtration strategy, museums run the risk of harmful pollutants that can cause damage to artifacts and priceless collections. And that’s not to mention the effect that these particulates can have on the health of museum workers as well as people who visit the museums.”
Per an article titled, Managing the Museum Environment on the Chicora Foundation website:
“Managing the museum environment can be difficult since it requires expertise and time. It also requires the efforts of all your staff as well as the cooperation of the public. But a controlled environment can be achieved, even by small institutions with limited resources.”
The truth is that no matter the size of a museum, the people in charge of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems must first be aware of the importance of maintaining proper indoor quality before they can implement an air filtration strategy necessary for success.
With that in mind, here are several reasons why air quality in museums is of such vital importance.
- Preserves Valuable Artifacts and Collections
The very existence of a museum is to preserve and protect historical items that would otherwise be lost or destroyed in a natural environment.
So it’s ironic that within the pristine confines of a museum lurk particulates that can harm the very items that museums are built to protect.
According to research conducted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, museums are susceptible to indoor pollutants because many collections are “exhibited or stored in uncontrolled microenvironments, such as display cases or storage units.”
In addition, the study found that particulates such as dust, dirt, mold and even dead skin cells from visitors were all sources of indoor air pollution at museums.
Left unchecked, these pollutants can cause deterioration to items such as books, paintings and sculptures, many of which are already in a significant state of degradation.
Preserving these artifacts is essential for a museum’s existence, which is why the HVAC system with an air filtration system that can eliminate the tiniest particulates is a critical requirement for maintaining air quality in museums.
- Protects the Health of Museum Workers and Visitors
Maintaining good indoor air quality at a museum is not simply a matter of preservation of artifacts, but also a health benefit for those who work on site and those who visit.
Studies have found that there are several types of organic and inorganic pollutants common to many museums.
A study in Conservation Journal, found that the five museums studied all had pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and organic acids.
In fact, what’s troubling is that organic pollutants are typically generated from sources within a museum such as paint, solvents, sealants, varnish and chemicals used to clean floors and displays. Additionally, these pollutants can even be introduced from the ventilation air from outside of the museum, especially in urban environments.
And while the concentrations of these pollutants vary, the issue is that museum workers may have prolonged exposure to these contaminants, which could have negative consequences for their health.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause liver, kidney and central nervous system damage as well as lead to some forms of cancer.
Camfil’s Commitment to Providing Information
With more than 50 years of experience in commercial air filtration, Camfil is committed to bringing you news and information that can help you better understand the issues related to indoor air quality and the dangers posed by pollutants.
It’s clear from the stories sourced in this piece that museum owners must be vigilant when it comes to the air quality, because it affects artifacts and collections within the museum, and can also negatively affect the health of employees and visitors.
Air Filtration Solutions
Camfil has a wide array of HVAC systems for museums. They can offer air filtration solutions for the unique needs of a museum. Camfil air monitoring services can determine the exact nature of pollutants in your museum, then implement the proper solutions, which will also take into account the types of artifacts and collections stored in the facility.
Camfil’s molecular-filtration test facility is one of the most advanced in the industry with specific gas filter product testing for vapors and gases that may be present at your museum. Not removed through common air filtration, gases must be removed by systems that actually adsorb the harmful gases from the air where they are removed completely from the building when the filters are changed.
We look forward to providing you with our industry-leading air filters and air cleaners that will ensure that your museum maintains a clean and safe environment.