Pollutants and their potential degradation of paintings have been measured for the first time in microclimate frames (mc-frames), which are used to protect paintings. The pollutants that were measured include both inorganic pollutants, which originate mainly from external sources, and organic pollutants from mainly internal sources. Those originating from the outdoors enter rooms and subsequently mc-frames at a rate depending on the ventilation rates (air exchange rates) of the mc-frames. The concentration of gaseous pollutants emitted within the mc-frames will depend on net emission rates of the materials used to make the mc-frames, their design, and their ventilation rates. In the EU PROPAINT project measurements of gaseous air pollutants and climatic conditions were performed at various locations both inside and outside different state-of-the-art mc-frames. Diffusive passive pollution gas samplers were used together with different types of dosimeters. Results show that the dosimeters respond to either the photo-oxidizing conditions or the level of volatile organic acids in the environments both in the museums and within the mc-frames. Two dosimeters, the Early Warning Organic (EWO) made from a synthetic polymer and the Resin Mastic coated Piezo electric Quartz Crystals (RM-PQC) respond to photo-oxidation and showed higher values outside than inside the mc-frames. Two other dosimeters, the Glass Slide Dosimeter (GSD) and the Lead coated Piezo electric Quartz Crystals (L-PQC) respond to volatile organic acids and yielded higher values inside than outside the mc-frames. This study emphasizes the need for further work to determine environmental damage functions for paintings, in particular for the effects of organic acids. Such information is essential for the evaluation of the protective effects of mc-frames for paintings. The use of mc-frames is increasing and it is very important to know that this protective measure does not introduce new risks.
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