Ozone Concerns in Museums

By May 18, 2015 No Comments
5 minutes to read

Ozone Concerns in Museums & How Camfil Air Filters for Museums Help

Inappropriate environmental conditions may cause irreversible damage to vulnerable artefacts.

Watch our Latest Google Hangout Air filters for museums

Humans are destined to be on this earth for a relatively short period of time when considering the age of our planet. Inanimate objects can exist for thousands of years leaving future generations a record of our history so society can forever move forward. The most valuable of these objects we store in museums or archives. Unfortunately these objects can be impacted by poor indoor air quality or pollution we generate as we through common daily practices. The most damaging pollutant threatening these valuable artifacts is ozone. Produced primarily by gasoline powered vehicles, industry, chemicals, and a reaction with the sun and heat, ozone is hazardous to humans and also to artifacts.  Ozone will oxidize or breakdown artifacts by causing a cross-link in the artifact’s molecular structure causing them to become brittle. The effect is painfully apparent in paintings, textiles, fossils and virtually any item made of organic material.  One of our sad lessons of history was the loss of Hollywood level and archival films of the early 20th century. Ozone, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide caused yellowing, fading, brittleness and finally the complete destruction of the films.Air filters for museums

Museums and archives employ carbon air filtration to remove these gaseous contaminants from the air to protect these artifacts for the learning enjoyment of future generations. Using a filtration principle known as adsorption, the harmful gases permeate into the pore structure of the carbon and adhere to the vast surface area within the carbon. One cup of carbon can have over five square miles of surface area capable of adsorbing quintillions of molecules of gaseous contaminants. Carbon actually has a catalytic reaction with ozone turning dangerous O3 into beneficial O2.

Normally these carbon filters are installed in the museum HVAC system downstream of the particulate air filters. There are various filter configurations each with its own installation or performance advantage. One unique design includes 35 pounds of carbon in a disposable cartridge style filter.

Other high performance long-lasting modules may include up to 120 pounds of carbon in a cylindrical canister design or even multiple flat panel trays with up to 90 pounds of carbon.

There are even some carbon impregnated media types that fit into existing systems of offer a combination of gaseous contaminant and particulate contaminant removal in a single disposable filter module.

There are four major factors that will cause artifacts to degrade, in order of level of concern; ultraviolet radiation, poor air quality associated with gases and particulates, uncontrolled humidity and temperature.

Carbon provides a little black magic to protect our heritage for many years to come. Camfil, the world’s largest and most progressive air filter manufacturer can provide more information on carbon products for your systems at


Charlie Seyffer | Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials

Camfil USA, Inc.

18 Camel Hill Road, Troy, NY 12180-9657

(Corporate: 1 N Corporate Drive, Riverdale, NJ 07457-1715)

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