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Tuesday, May 17 • 12:00pm - 12:30pm
(Book and Paper) A Preliminary Investigation Into the Use of Diethylenetriaminepentaacetic Acid (DTPA) and Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA) to Treat Foxing of Paper Objects.

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Iron ions are highly destructive to paper objects, acting as powerful catalysts of oxidative cellulose degradation. A common term used to identify this form of degradation is foxing. Often caused by iron and other instigating factors present in paper, degradation via foxing may be accelerated by increased moisture levels. Such poor environmental conditions may be experienced during disaster situations. Treatment of such degradation is necessary, but difficult. Chelating agents have been utilized in the treatment of iron induced cellulose degradation. In this work, a preliminary assessment of the effectiveness, ethical standing, and practicality of chelating agents in the interventive treatment of works of art on paper has been conducted. A review of past uses of chelating agents in the conservation of paper objects was conducted and synthesized iron foxed samples were tested with diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA), ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), and a combination of chelates and the reducing agent, sodium dithionite. Technical analysis of the samples was carried out after testing was completed. Visual analysis of the samples was conducted under visible light, ultraviolet fluorescence (280-440 nm), and optical microscopy. Iron ion levels were analyzed using x-ray fluorescence before treatment, after treatment with chelators, and after washing the samples. Selected samples were further examined after samples were treated and washed using a scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy to investigate fiber structure and iron residues. Brightness of samples was measured before and after treatment with a spectrophotometer, however, due to mechanical failure, these readings were inaccurate. After lengthy and invasive treatment procedures were tested, DTPA and EDTA have successfully reduced staining and levels of iron ions in paper samples. The brightness of paper visibly increased and ultraviolet fluorescence revealed presence of residues. This study provides more insight into the risks and benefits of some chelating agent treatment methods used in paper conservation.

avatar for Brook Prestowitz

Brook Prestowitz

Conservator, Williamstown Art Conservation Center
In her role as National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Brook Prestowitz prepares condition reports, treatment estimates, and proposals, and she carries out conservation treatment for works of art on paper and archival materials.Brook received her BA from the University of Delware... Read More →


Charis Theodorakopoulos

Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University
Charis Theodorakopoulos, PhD, is a fine arts conservator and conservation scientist. He is Senior Lecturer and leader of the Conservation Science modules of the Conservation of Fine Arts and the Preventive Conservation Postgraduate Programs of Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon... Read More →

Dr. Jane Colbourne

Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University
Jane Colbourne is a graduate from the Gateshead Programme (now Northumbria University) in the Conservation of Works of Art on Paper in 1987. She worked for several years for the Durban and Johannesburg Art Gallery’s in South Africa as a Paper Conservator before joining the Tate... Read More →

Tuesday May 17, 2016 12:00pm - 12:30pm EDT
Room 520