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Wednesday, May 31 • 4:05pm - 4:30pm
(Treatment: Don't Go it Alone) Not a Known Carcinogen: Health and Safety Considerations of New and Innovative Treatments

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Innovative conservation treatment often means using new materials, adapting old materials in unusual ways or adopting novel techniques and technologies from other fields. Presentations on these innovations, whether through conferences or journals, tend to focus on the mechanism of the techniques, their uses and how they improve the treatment and affect the objects. Occasionally they touch upon health and safety issues, yet still emphasize the health and safety of the object over that of the conservator. In the adaptation of any innovative technique, the health and safety associated with the materials should be considered. But what if that information is limited or unclear? This paper will explore the health and safety issues of innovative treatments; how conservators should interpret health and safety data in general; and what steps to take if there is no information available.

Cyclododecane will be used as a case study to highlight the unique health and safety scenarios faced by conservators of all specialties and where health and safety in general falls into the treatment decision making process. Although used in conservation for over twenty years, cyclododecane as a treatment option is still considered innovative as conservators continue to find new ways to take advantage of the fact that it slowly sublimates at room temperature. It is a material that is used across conservation disciplines, so most conservators have or will encounter cyclododecane over the course of their careers. Cyclododecane also represents a material that, as it is more commonly used without addressing safety concerns, becomes accepted as safe without question. In fact, there is very little health and safety information for cyclododecane (or many of the other chemicals used in treatment, particularly in the off-label use by conservators). The information that is provided may be misleading or confusing to those unfamiliar with industrial hygiene terminology. One manufacturer states the "general population will not come in contact with cyclododecane as the substance is manufactured and used exclusively in industrial settings under strictly controlled conditions.” A review of the conservation literature indicates otherwise; cyclododecane is being used outside of industrial settings, conditions are not strictly controlled and there is significant potential for exposure to conservators and the general public. The authors will also discuss the recent decision by conservation suppliers to discontinue carrying cyclodecane and the implications on conservators and their treatments. 

Conservators dutifully checking Safety Data Sheets become frustrated by the phrase "no data” in critical fields. How should conservators interpret minimal SDS information and, more importantly, how should they protect themselves? The paper presents the available resources for finding out about the health and safety issues related to all materials, since even materials that have a history of use within conservation have not been thoroughly studied. The authors will discuss the choices that conservators make when dealing with unknown health risks based on interviews with conservators who have used cyclododecane and what these observations reveal about considerations of health and safety within the field of conservation. And finally they will outline their journey to get the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the body that recommends airborne concentrations of agents and exposure conditions, to define health and safety data for cyclododecane.

Speaker(s)
avatar for Kerith Koss Schrager

Kerith Koss Schrager

Conservator, The Found Object Art Conservation
Kerith Koss Schrager, objects conservator and owner of The Found Object Art Conservation, provides conservation and preservation services for fine and decorative arts, historical, ethnographic and archaeological collections in the greater New York area. She has worked with institutions... Read More →

Co-Author(s)
avatar for Anne Kingery Schwartz-[PA]

Anne Kingery Schwartz-[PA]

Principal Objects Conservator, Kingery Conservation LLC
Anne Kingery-Schwartz is an objects conservator in private practice in Washington DC. Since starting her business in 2011, she’s worked for various Smithsonian museums, other local institutions, and private clients. Prior to going into private practice, Anne worked at the Philadelphia... Read More →
avatar for Julie Sobelman

Julie Sobelman

Independent Consultant, Health, Safety and Sustainability, CIH, CSP, LEED AP
Julie is a consulting industrial hygienist based in Vienna, VA. She has over 30 years of professional experience in the recognition, evaluation and control of potential hazards in the work place, in homes and in the surrounding community. She has worked in senior level professional... Read More →


Wednesday May 31, 2017 4:05pm - 4:30pm
Regency C-D Ballroom Level, West Tower

Attendees (192)