Symptoms of skin and eye irritation, headache,
nausea, and respiratory difficulty at ASM can be associated with one or more of
the chemical compounds present in deteriorating nitrate and diacetate negatives.
Interestingly, symptomatology occurs at concentrations below OSHA limits and is
more pronounced as duration and possibly the level of exposure increases.
Although contaminant concentration generated by deteriorating nitrate and diacetate
negatives are very low, they can be reduced further with improved ventilation controls.
Improvements in general room ventilation including changes in the position of supply
air registers, and the overall level of air movement will result in improved air
quality through the dilution of air contaminants. However, since symptoms of exposure
to contaminant exist at very low concentration, the time of exposure may also require
modification. The amount of time spent working with de4teriorating negative collections
will have to be determined by those involved in such activities. While improvements
in ventilation are being made to reduce personal exposures, marathon work sessions
of several hours or more should be avoided.
At ASM, ventilation was improved in the workroom by opening a door and turning
the workstation to face the existing exhaust outlet. An exhaust hood was installed
in the darkroom, with a more powerful fan and flexible duct added to exhaust fumes
away from the technician and out of the work area. Protective latex gloves and respirators
were worn by collection handlers. Time of exposure to materials was limited and
break times for employees were lengthened. Workers were careful to wash themselves
and work surfaces after each handling session. After altering handling procedures
at ASM, discomfort was relieved. Conscientious efforts to maximize air movement,
minimize exposure with protective clothing, and limit handling time allowed our
negative conservation project to proceed safely.