art

Air Purification Safeguards Priceless Works of Art in the Sistine Chapel

With high pollution levels putting some of the world's most famous masterpieces housed in the Sistine Chapel at risk, the through new air purification systems

With high pollution levels putting some of the world’s most famous masterpieces housed in the Sistine Chapel at risk, the Vatican is hoping to save artwork through new air purification systems, The Associated Press reported.

The head of the Vatican Museums recently announced pollution in the Sistine Chapel have reached levels that may further damage its artwork. Recent studies indicate that the chapel’s almost 5.5 million annual visitors are adding to dust and humidity that pose a risk to various pieces of art, according to Religion News Service.

During the peak tourism season for the Sistine Chapel, 20,000 people walk through its halls each day – a figure that is three times the number of visitors compared to the last 30 years – bringing in dirt and dust along with them. In addition to Michelangelo’s painting depicted on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, the chapel contains the works of Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Luca Signorelli.

Restoration at the chapel last took place in the 1990s, with the frescoes ending up brighter than what Michelangelo would have envisioned, according to critics of the restoration. Director Antonio Paolucci was hesitant about having another major restoration. He said restoration is “traumatic” for the artwork.

“There won’t be any more restorations,” he said. “But maintenance continues.”

Air Filtration Systems Help Preserve Artwork’s Integrity

Instead of having another restoration, the Vatican Museums plan to maintain the integrity of its valuable artwork through the use of air purification systems. Paolucci said levels of dust, humidity and carbon dioxide are expected to be controlled through the chapel’s set of air purifiers as well as a new air conditioning system. These systems will be installed at what is usually the site of papal elections and should be operational by the end of 2014.

The Vatican aims to reduce the amount of pollution to a maximum of 800 particles per million. During the Sistine Chapel’s highest concentration of pollution, this level is more than 1,600 particles per million, according to officials.

While Paolucci said he was confident the new air purifying and conditioning system will help reduce the dulling and discoloration of the chapel’s artwork, if pollution inside the chapel is not curbed, the Vatican may be forced to limit its number of visitors.

“If this project doesn’t work, I’ll be forced to impose a limited number (of visitors),” Paolucci said. “But that would be a painful solution.”

Saving Mona Lisa: Eliminate Indoor Air Pollution

Eradicate indoor air pollution in order to preserve precious works of art

Eradicate indoor air pollution in order to preserve precious works of art

In the art conservation industry, professional painting conservators will tell you that regardless of the monetary worth of your artifact, indoor air pollution will, at some point, negatively affect the intrinsic value of the piece. In fact, as soon as an artist finishes his or her creation, aging and deterioration begin. (1) Whether it’s fine art or a painting that is merely decorative, an object’s curator must be prepared to protect it.

Almost any surface – textile, fabric, wood or paper – can be used as a base for paint. Artists most often use paper or canvas and with both materials, there is a natural aging process. Even if meticulous care is given to a particular painting, deterioration will inevitably take place.

Degeneration of painted works of art occurs due to a number of factors, including moisture, heat, light, indoor air pollution and pests. Damage can be sudden or transpire over a long period of time. Some factors, like heat and light, can be addressed from the outset with specialized resources. And if pests are discovered, control efforts can be employed. But issues such as pollution and poor indoor air quality are more insidious due to the fact that fumes and gasses cannot be seen. Airborne pollutants can originate from sources in the atmosphere or from emissive products and objects. Many conventional paints, for example, emit gaseous VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as formaldehyde. (2) And numerous products used to clean paintings, such as methyl ethyl ketone and acetone, are toxic.

Because of this ongoing threat, the work of painting conservators is hugely important. Art conservation includes the cleaning, preserving and repairing of works of art in addition to ethical mindfulness and scientific consideration. Within this specialized industry, those who work in preservation deal with controlling agents of deterioration such as humidity, temperature, pests, light, and dust and air pollution. Those who work on the restoration end care less about a painting’s history and more about aesthetics; about making a piece look new and polished while appearing to look original. For example, restoration can include repairing an item that has suffered paint loss, a weakened canvas, tears or other damage. Conserving preserves the structural stability and visual appearance, such as removing old varnish, repairing a torn canvas or securing flaking paint. (3)

Take the National Gallery’s collection, for example. There are upwards of 4,000 paintings, all created with varying types of enamels, oils, glues and wax. The art conservators on staff work around the clock to preserve and restore their paintings from the effects of pollutants and age. (4)

Broadly defined, a pollutant is a substance that has a detrimental effect on the environment and can cause harm to a person or object (including the health of a living thing). Impurities can be generated in or out but typically do the most damage when they are produced and located indoors. Airborne pollutants continue to challenge art conservators due to the fact that they are often invisible and signs of contamination do not appear until after damage has occurred. (5)

But art conservators have tools to combat poor indoor air quality in the form of pollution removal systems such as our bench-top and wall-mount source capture systems both of which provide the ultimate combination of consistent airflow along with superior filtration all in a compact design.

At Air Systems Inc., we serve our painting conservation customers by providing indoor air quality management solutions in addition to stellar IAQ products. Our air impurity removal systems create clean air to protect valuable works of art so that people can continue to enjoy them for many years to come.

Contact us today for a free air quality assessment with one of our skilled and experienced indoor environmental specialists.

For a Healthy Indoor Air Quality Source Capture Ventilation is Key

For a Healthy Indoor Air Quality Source Capture Ventilation is Key 1

What do woodworkers, artists, dentists, nail technicians, and welders all have in common? Yes, they work with their hands. But that is not all. Those who work in these professions all produce indoor air emissions by just going about their daily duties.

Artists who paint or make pottery may breathe in fumes or particulate matter, as well as many dentists when they use laughing gas or drill teeth to fill cavities. Woodworkers can inhale particle dust; nail techs vapors from glues and polishes. Welders heat up the metal that can emit noxious fumes into the air. The list of jobs, professions, and tasks performed that can create indoor air quality problems goes on and on.

As most business owners know, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to comply with standards created under it. It requires that employers be reasonably aware of the possible sources of poor air quality and that they should have the resources necessary to recognize and control potential hazards.

Most business owners take seriously this responsibility for creating a safe and healthy workplace. They uphold OSHA compliance by keeping their factories, studios, and manufacturing floors clean by maintaining their machines and equipment. But to truly protect their employees from the risk of illness and other hazards, the indoor air quality must be free of pollutants or all their other efforts will fall short of real protection.

The bottom line? Airborne pollutants create a poor IAQ. Experts agree that in most cases, the most effective way to keep the air clean and healthy is to eliminate pollution at the source. This proven method of indoor air cleaning is known as source capture.

At its most basic, source capture may be defined as the process of removing gas, smoke, fumes, and particles where emissions originate.

This process prevents pollutants from dispersing into the surrounding air, the effects of which can cause worker illness, risk of fire and explosion, and an unclean indoor environment.

The top three benefits to source capture are:

Improved worker health

Enhanced productivity & worker retention

Reduced operating costs

Source capture ventilation equipment is less expensive to purchase, run, and maintain than large area (ambient) cleaning methods.

Reduced energy costs

Source capture ventilation products are smaller, thus using less energy than ambient systems.

There are several types of source control products used in the industry. The most common include:

  • Extraction Arm systems
  • Bench-Top and Wall Mount Fume Extractors
  • Mobile Fume Extractors
  • Downdraft Tables

These systems isolate contaminants and remove them from a worker’s breathing space.  

In addition to the professions and applications mentioned at the outset of this article, any trade or occupation that involves cutting, mixing, or burning, or deals with chemicals or substances that emit fumes, mists, or vapors, are also effectively handled by source capture ventilation systems.

The type of source capture ventilation product that is right for a given job and task will depend on a variety of factors including the application and the building infrastructure. At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. we provide source capture air cleaning systems for our customers. We have numerous options to choose from, such as our SP-800 mobile fume extractor, our S-981-2B bench-top fume extractor, and our model SCDD-3450 downdraft table. For more information, contact us for your free estimate with one of our clean air experts.