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Sustainable Use of Coatings in Museums and Archives - Some Critical Observations

Keywords: Green , paint , pollutant , LEED , varnish , VOC

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Abstract:

There is increasing pressure to use coatings in a more sustainable way in our society and museums and archives are not exempt from this. Coatings, including those presumed to be “green” products, have been examined in terms of their suitability for collection preservation. To be more sustainable, museums should both avoid applying a coating as much as possible. When the need is essential, then they should consider choosing, recycled paints, and select those coatings that would have the least impact on human health and the environment. Low-VOC emulsion (latex or waterborne) paint is the most promising coating and is suitable for preservation purposes. The emphasis remains on avoiding the use of any coating based on drying oils inside enclosures, such as display cases. Drying oils may seem to be green products but they release harmful peroxides and low molecular weight carboxylic acids during the curing process.

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