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Investigation of long term storage solutions for rubber garments

Hacke, Marei and Willey, Jo and Mitchell, Gemma and Rushworth, Iain David and Higgitt, Catherine and Gibson, Lorraine (2014) Investigation of long term storage solutions for rubber garments. Journal of the Institute for Conservation, 37 (2). pp. 179-196. ISSN 1945-5224

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A collection of 1980s Mexican rubberised cotton garments was investigated in order to assess conservation treatment options, to improve their long term storage conditions and to investigate the origin of the strong odour associated with the garments. Chemical and mechanical deterioration of the rubber was confirmed by FTIR and SEM analyses. Recommendations for remedial conservation were made after trials to re-shape a garment by the application of gentle heat. Passive diffusion tube sampling was carried out to assess the levels of acids, aldehydes and VOCs emitted from the garments. Very high concentrations of acetic acid off-gassing were confirmed and deemed a risk to the cotton fabric. Test set-ups in sealed ambient and anoxic conditions with and without the inclusion of MicroChamber® paper showed the effectiveness of this pollutant sorbent in reducing acetic acid levels as well as general odour emitted by the garments.