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Museums and libraries face challenges for the preservation of the contents due to increased amounts of molecular and particulate contamination. Degradation of books and artifacts over the years has led to the recognition of the need to improve the quality and cleanliness of the indoor air environment in these type facilities.

Technological advances have allowed for increased filtration efficiencies within existing HVAC system limitations. Utilization of advanced filtration technologies allow for effective removal of molecular and particulate contaminants known to be of concern in the degradation of artifacts, books, works of art and other articles stored/displayed within the museum.

Molecular Contaminants

The primary contaminants of concern are sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. These contaminants are known to chemically attack artifacts, causing permanent, irreversible damage. The type of damage and severity depends upon the amount of contamination and the artifacts’ materials of construction. There may be other molecular contaminants present that are specific to individual applications and/or geographic locations that are not currently thought to be detrimental in LAMs. For example, in new construction, there could be levels of formaldehyde that would require additional controls.

Particulate Contaminants

There are two major concerns with particulate contaminants: non-viable and viable particles. Non-viable particles cause soiling of the artifacts. Cleaning of many artifacts is not an option, as it can often result in damage. Viable particles, usually in the form of airborne fungal spores, bacteria, and molds can also deteriorate artifacts, especially if temperature and humidity are not maintained at proper levels.

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