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Impacts of PM Pollution on Cultural Heritage

Funding: Basic research project is (co)funded by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) with 2469 annual hours (class C) for a period of 3 years (170 annual hours allocated to NMS). The start of funding is 01. 07. 2019
Duration: 01. 07. 2019 - 30. 06. 2022
Acronim: J1-1707
Project partners: National Institute of Chemistry (leading partner)
Samples of representative materials (marble and limestone), exposed in the external Lapidarium. During the project, we will monitor what is deposited on the surface of the samples and how the deposited material affects the surface.
Samples of representative materials (two types of clay) in the central depot, where the processes on the surface will also be monitored during the project.
Air quality measurements with an emphasis on PM pollution in the external Lapidarium. The measurements are performed using the Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer or SMPS spectrometer for counting submicron particles, which provides accurate measurements of fine fraction PM (10–1000 nm), which are typical diameters of organic aerosols.
PM pollution monitoring in the central depot using SPMS spectrometer.

Project description

Air pollutants, which include particulate matter (PM), can cause damage in contact with various surfaces. Of course, this also applies to surfaces of museum/cultural heritage objects. It is the particulate matter in the atmosphere (PM) that is most responsible for the deterioration of outdoor materials, and the reactions between pollutants occur not only outdoors but also in indoor spaces where air is not filtered. Air filtration can usually only be established in new buildings, therefore older or historic museum buildings, such as the National Museum of Slovenia building on Muzejska Street, can be problematic in this respect.

It is believed that future soiling (i.e. surface blackening due to particle deposition) of stone heritage will be primarily caused by organic aerosols with different chemical composition from that of the historic black crusts still present on almost all monuments in Europe. However, very little is known about the interactions between deposited organic PM and their underlying surfaces. Therefore, the goals of this project are to i) recognize the damaging potential of the organic fraction of atmospheric aerosols and ii) understand the modes of action with which PM damages material surfaces, in order to iii) assess the risk and recognize necessary actions for better protection of cultural heritage in Slovenia, and worldwide.

We will examine the conditions in two NMS spaces, in the building on Muzejska Street and in the glass lapidarium adjacent to the building. In particular, we will focus on representative materials in these two spaces, which are potentially most sensitive to damage caused by PM, i.e. clay and stone.

The research will be coordinated by the National Institute of Chemistry, (NIC, Department of Analytical Chemistry) and will be carried out in cooperation with the National Museum of Slovenia.

Project website: https://www.ki.si/en/departments/d04-department-of-analytical-chemistry/research-activities/atmospheric-chemistry-arrs-j1-1707/

Project Team

  • Dr Ana Kroflič (project leader, PI at NIC)
  • Dr Kristijan Vidović
  • Dr Martin Šala
  • Dr Irena Grgić
  • Dr Marjan Bele
  • Monika Ogrizek
  • Ivana Drventić
  • Dr Eva Menart (PI at NMS)