Occupational exposure to airborne chemical substances in paintings conservators
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Centralny Instytut Ochrony Pracy - Państwowy Instytut Badawczy / Central Institute For Labour Protection - National Research Institute, Warszawa, Poland (Zakład Zagrożeń Chemicznych, Pyłowych i Biologicznych / Department of Chemical, Aerosol and Biological Hazards)
Anna Jeżewska   

Zakład Zagrożeń Chemicznych, Pyłowych i Biologicznych, Centralny Instytut Ochrony Pracy – Państwowy Instytut Badawczy, ul. Czerniakowska 16, 00-701 Warszawa
Med Pr 2014;65(1):33–41
Background: This paper presents the results of the quantitative study of the airborne chemical substances detected in the conservator's work environment. Material and Methods: The quantitative tests were carried out in 6 museum easel paintings conservation studios. The air test samples were taken at various stages of restoration works, such as cleaning, doubling, impregnation, varnishing, retouching, just to name a few. The chemical substances in the sampled air were measured by the GC-FID (gas chromatography with flame ionization detector) test method. Results: The study results demonstrated that concentrations of airborne substances, e.g., toluene, 1,4-dioxane, turpentine and white spirit in the work environment of paintings conservators exceeded the values allowed by hygiene standards. It was found that exposure levels to the same chemical agents, released during similar activities, varied for different paintings conservation studios. It is likely that this discrepancy resulted from the indoor air exchange system for a given studio (e.g. type of ventilation and its efficiency), the size of the object under maintenance, and also from the methodology and protection used by individual employees. Conclusions: The levels of organic solvent vapors, present in the workplace air in the course of painting conservation, were found to be well above the occupational exposure limits, thus posing a threat to the worker's health. Med Pr 2014;65(1):33–41