Here are three simple, quick yoga sequences, all from Yoga Journal, that are good for conservators. The first two sequences are nice for anyone who sits at a desk or a lab bench for long periods of time. If you have frequent neck pain or headaches, check these out. They were written by Ray Long, an orthopedic surgeon, and they help correct for upper and lower crossed syndrome. These syndromes occur when muscles shorten, tighten, and weaken as a result of sitting for long periods of time. You can read the full article about these muscle imbalances here, or you can go straight to illustrations of the issues and the slide shows of poses. Click here for upper crossed syndrome and here for lower.
The third sequence (click here) is good for anyone who stands for long periods of time, or who has lower back pain in general. I like this as an antidote to the pain caused by standing on my museum’s concrete floor for hours during exhibit installation. This sequence is written in ten minute increments, so that you can keep going and practice for up to 30 minutes if you like. Personally, I only ever do the first ten minutes.
You can do these sequences without a yoga mat, but make sure to practice in bare feet on a non-slippery surface. You will need a belt for the upper crossed and back pain sequences. You can use a yoga belt, a regular belt, or – if you don’t have any kind of belt at all – you can use a scarf or a towel. The upper crossed sequence also recommends lying on a bolster. If you don’t have a bolster, you can use anything that will allow your chest to open while still supporting your head: roll up a towel, a blanket, or try a sofa cushion (removed from the sofa). For the lower-crossed sequence, a block is useful. If you don’t have a yoga block, you can improvise. When I’m traveling, I use my one-liter, Nalgene water bottle as a block; it’s the perfect height. If you are not super flexible, you might not need a block at all – your thigh might work fine.
Whether or not you were lucky enough to have attended the luncheon on create safe and practical conservation studios, you will be happy to know that the entire PowerPoint is available on the Health & Safety site (http://www.conservation-us.org/publications-resources/health-safety/other-resources#.VV9GjU_Byyo). The presenters are architects and engineers with EwingCole, and were extremely generous in sharing their expertise. Having conducted numerous interviews with conservators in private practice (mostly paintings and paper), and toured many studios and labs, the presenters were able to provide specific examples of both challenges and solutions. The luncheon was divided into 2 sections, each with round table presentations followed by time for questions.
During the first section, the discussion focused on ways to identify and understand risks (probability and severity). Practical tips were provided to ensure safe storage for chemicals both at the work space and in cabinets. A broad discussion about workplace design started with information about different types of buildings, concerns about adjacent spaces, and the importance of accounting for all people who might be in a studio space (including children and pets). Fire prevention, detection, and suppression were covered. The section on ergonomics included a tip that I particularly appreciated – a board for step aerobics can provide adjustable heights for conservators working at tall tables.
The second section included information about air flow and exhaust. Since many conservators are concerned about the management of fumes, this generated a lively discussion with many questions. The PowerPoint includes a number of helpful charts, tables, and equations to help conservators determine the ventilation needs and capabilities of their spaces. Also included are case studies with practical solutions to ventilation needs, as well as links for helpful online resources.
This talk, given in Saturday’s Health and Safety session, was a summary of a project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History investigating the vapors that staff were exposed to when opening old storage cabinets.
Chemicals that accumulate from pest management or other treatments can be harmful to people, objects/specimens, and even storage furniture through inhalation, repeated exposure, and adsorbing or absorbing onto their surfaces. Many pesticides are particularly retained in lipids in specimens and in the wood components of storage cabinets – this has the potential to be problematic for those working with collections that were subjected to these types of treatments in the past, particularly natural history collections. The goals of the project were to detect, identify, and quantify concentrations of organic vapors in cabinets that were known to have held treated specimens, thereby being able to determine the level of risk. Entering into the project, mercury vapor was expected. Heavy metals and non-volatile particulates were not investigated, with the idea being that proper use of personal safety tools and regular cleaning with HEPA vacuums will negate their effect on humans.
Vapor data was collected via evacuated canisters using the USEPA TO-15 method, and a mercury vapor analyzer. Cabinets chosen for the survey were presumed to have not been opened recently (and some were known to have been left unopened for many years). Of the cabinets chosen, 55 held mammals, 100 held anthropological specimens, and 50 were empty but had held anthropological specimens in the past. Results
Contrary to expectations, none of the cabinets were found to have mercury vapor! However, 39 other volatile compounds were found. Thankfully, these compounds were only detected in the ppb levels, and all volatile compounds detected were well below (often 100-1000 times below) workplace exposure limits (TLV).
Data obtained was not significantly different from the empty and the filled cabinets, which suggests that empty cabinets retain some chemicals, even after long periods of time. However, measurements of volatile compounds present in storage outside of the cabinets were not taken.
Though these ranges are safe for humans, they may not be safe for collections stored within the cabinets or for the cabinets themselves. Two chemicals are of particular concern: PDB (1,4-dichlorobenzene) and naphthalene are both highly toxic and will be retained in fats and other proteinaceous materials. They also increase mobility of unsaturated fats and are likely carcinogenic. In addition, PDB may crystallize onto surfaces, leaving a reside that can be quite sticky and difficult to remove.
Due to the results of the survey, the authors have a few key recommendations for collections that may contain such chemicals:
Improve storage: Budget towards accelerated disposal of old cabinets. Do not reuse them, even with non-collection items. Re-house collections in metal cabinets, and segregate treated specimens from the rest of the collection.
Implement an integrated pest management system: This reduces the need for future treatments and can be non-toxic! Heat treatment is not recommended for pesticide-treated specimens.
Implement safe work practices and practice personal safetey measures: Wear gloves, minimize case-browsing, examine objects in a well-ventilated area.
Work towards remediation: place scavengers in cabinets that can’t be evaluated or dealt with now.
Grown a beard to emulate your conservation idol Steve Koob?
Participated in a juice cleanse which inspired a new pattern of healthy eating and daily lunchtime walks?
Had a little work done ?
Contracted Hepatitis B while doing archaeological site conservation in an exotic foreign location? (I sure hope not!)
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are a candidate for a respirator fit test even you don’t work in a place where an annual test is required. Facial hair, weight loss or gain of 20lbs or more and any other changes in the shape of your face may mean that the respirator you have been wearing is no longer tight-fitting. Serious illness may compromise your respiratory and/or other systems making respirator use dangerous.
I trust that those reading this are already aware of the importance of protecting ourselves from the potentially harmful chemical compounds (vapors and particulates) and other irritants (such as mold) that we may be exposed to in the course of our work. Depending on the risk, such protection might be afforded in a variety of ways such as via the use of laboratory fume hood, appropriate room ventilation systems including workstation elephant trunk style air outlets, and/or personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a dust mask or respirator.
If you don’t work in a museum or other institution with a designated health and safety officer following OSHA required guidelines, you might be unclear about what kind of mask is required for a particular contaminant and even what “fit testing” means. Personally, never having been “fit tested” before, I will admit that for years I wasn’t even 100% clear whether it meant “are you fit (in proper health) to wear a respirator?” or “does the respirator fit?” Of course it means both! These days all you need do is consult the very informative AIC Health and Safety Committee Wiki to get your fill of information about respirators and so much more http://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/Health_%26_Safety#Personal_Protective_Equipment_.28PPE.29
As a conservator in private practice, I have no employer checking up on whether or not I am protecting myself. Several years ago I purchased a respirator, which seemed to fit well. While wearing it with the correct cartridges for the organic solvents I was working with, I figured “If I can’t smell the vapors it must be fine.” But I was never really sure that it fit and it is important to follow guidelines about the life of your cartridges to be sure you are getting adequate protection.
When I signed up for the respirator fit test, the AIC Health and Safety committee sent me the six-page OSHA Medical Evaluation Form (mostly check boxes with yes or no) to fill out and have signed by my doctor prior to fit testing. Keep this in mind if you plan to participate in fit testing at AIC next year – you must plan ahead and have this signed paperwork in hand or you will not be allowed to be tested! This form is available for download on the wiki. The respirator fit testing consists of two steps, both of which fulfill the annual requirements mandated by OSHA. First, a brief Powerpoint, given by James R. Smith, Safety Coordinator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, covered topics from the requirements of the Respiratory Protection Program (29CFR 1910.134) to hazards requiring a respirator, how to choose the correct respirator, care and maintenance, donning and doffing and training requirements for employers. The lecture was accompanied by handouts prepared by AIC Health and Safety and we were given a 10 question true or false quiz at the end.
I had scheduled my fit testing appointment prior to traveling to San Francisco. AIC Health and Safety asked participants to choose their top three time slots on the given date in order of preference. When I arrived, I noticed that there were still a couple of time slots available. I would highly recommend pre-registration for fit testing at AIC if you plan to do it next year because then you are guaranteed a spot.
The fit testing itself was quite simple. After donning my mask, James handed me a card with a poem to read while moving my head up and down, side to side and in a circular motion.
While I read this rainbow poem, he followed me with a little pen like device emitting an irritant smoke. I believe that the finale required bending at the waist. The test was brief and painless and I was relieved to hear that I had passed – particularly since I had already used the respirator on numerous projects. Once the test was over, James offered to prove to me that the respirator worked by allowing me to experience the irritant sans respirator. I declined saying that I trusted the test. However, he said that some people like to have proof and offered again. Somehow I took the bait and learned first hand that indeed, the gas is an irritant and my respirator is working properly.
Thank you to James, Kathryn A Makos, MPH, CIH (Industrial Hygienist (Ret.) Smithsonian Institution) and the rest of the AIC Health and Safety Committee for offering this service at the annual meeting.
Are you concerned about the health and safety of yourself and others? Do you want to get involved in AIC and be part of a great team? Will you be enrolled in a graduate conservation program during the upcoming academic year? The Health & Safety Committee of AIC is seeking a new student member to serve a 2-year term (2014-2016).
Health & Safety is a very active committee, with members contributing articles and guides to the AIC News and AIC Wiki; hosting an informational booth, workshops, and a full day of sessions at the Annual Meeting; and regularly addressing questions and issues related to health and safety in our field.
All H&S Committee members are AIC members
Members serve a 4-year term with an option to serve a second term if other members approve. Student members serve a single, 2-year term.
There are 10 H&S member positions, including Chair, 8 professional members, and 1 student member; at least one member is a health professional.
The members are supported by an AIC board liaison, the Collections Care Member, and a staff liaison, the Membership and Meetings Director.
Student member position description:
The student member will share with the other committee members the responsibility to plan for AIC Annual Meeting activities, attend meetings/conference calls, contribute to H&S projects, and represent the organization. This position will also offer the student member an opportunity to act as the liaison between H&S and the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in health and safety issues, and a desire to participate and learn from the more experienced members of the committee.
For more information on the H&S Committee, please visit our website: www.conservation-us.org/healthandsafety. If you would like details on the duties and commitment of the position, please contact current student member Heather Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org. Potential candidates should submit a resume or CV and statement of interest to Chair Kathy Makos, email@example.com, by April 1, 2014.
From the Lab to Field Choosing and Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Dawn Bolstad-Johnson, MPH, CIH, CSP
Chris Stavroudis, Paintings Conservator in Private Practice
So I tried to take down as much information as I could that was presented at this workshop which, by the way, was excellent. There is a LOT of helpful and interesting information that (I hope) will be helpful and interesting to our blog-reading audience.
So, here we go!
Objectives of the Workshop:
Determine minimum PPE needed in the lab at disaster scenes
Review of Typical Exposures Hazards
Routes of Entry
Hierarchy of Controls
Common complacency of not using PPE
Health effects from typical exposures
Tips to protect yourself
How to address situations where all parties are not wearing PPE
Hierarchy of Controls
Local exhaust (e.g. fume hood)
Employee rotation for a task which involves the exposure, so that one person is not exposed to the hazard repeatedly
PPE is always the last resort
Wearing PPE should NOT create a new hazard
E.g. fire fighters have to wear it because you cannot engineer or administrate the hazards out
OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.132
Employers need to do a hazard assessment to determine if hazards present necessitate the use of PPE
Students and volunteers are also included under this as well
Employers must certify in writing that the hazard assessment was conducted – job hazard assessment: hazards identified in all parts of the job that needs to be performed e.g. soot cleaning from painting
PPE selection must be made on the hazard assessment and affected workers properly trained. Defective or damaged PPE must NOT be used
Routes of Entry
Typical Hazards to Conservators
Health concerns arise when the concentration of mold inside the building is significantly higher than outdoor concentrations
We are in filtered air inside building which should be lower than outdoor
Identifying the concentration of the mold is more important than identifying the actual species of mold
“Black mold” scare was the result of a report by the CDC that babies were inhaling stachybotrys and lungs were bleeding from the inside. The actual truth was discovered in the autopsies: only the upper respiratory tract was affected. The CDC retracted their statement after discovering the error, but it’s too late and the media has blown it all out of proportion.
Air samples on agar – potato dextrose agar for mold in early 1990s
Now with spore traps for air sampling – cover slide inside a cassette – captures live and dead – sample is about 5 minutes of air flow sampled
Swab samples also
Bulk samples (e.g. sample on wall, ceiling) – culture is performed
Need to compare with the OUTSIDE mold spore numbers to get an accurate picture of the problem
Where do you take the sample? Take 3 samples in the size of Marriot’s Salon A and 2 samples outside – 2 samples for a smaller space or 1 for a very small space
To get rid of it: remove moisture (e.g. dehumidifier); if it’s in the wall and has no way to get out (e.g. electrical outlets, phone jacks), there is nothing to worry about
Dry spores are just as harmful as active spores
As a practice, in a water soaked facility, check not only artifacts and shelving, but also the walls and the carpeting
Dust near water damage could be dry mold and therefore a respiratory hazard
Working in fume hood or elephant trunk is advised when working with any type of mold
Vacuuming: use HEPA vacuum and throw away the filter in plastic bag
Nilfisk’s helpful hint for filter disposal: put plastic shopping bag under the vacuum filter in the vacuum and then when you throw it away, you can bag it and throw it away
Facts about mold
Classified as viable (live) and non-viable (dead)
Both are health hazards if inhaled
Mold affects everyone differently
Mold growth in the lung is called – aspergilliosis, as aspergillus is the likely culprit
Mold can establish itself 24-48 hours following water intrusion
Most likely species will be penicillium (aggressive – first one “out of the gate”) and/or aspergillus
Presence of penicillium can introduce a musty odor to the environment – indicator
Concentration can change from room to room – odor just means a presence not necessarily at a toxic level because toxicity varies from person to person – floats in a “cloud”
TANGENT: Fact about cigarette smoke and “smoker’s cough”: Silia hairs in lungs are paralyzed by nicotine; when nicotine wears off, the silia then try to expel smoke by-products aka cough and when the person smokes again, the silia are paralyzed again and the cough goes away
When is dust an inhalation hazard?
10 micron size particulate can get into your upper respiratory tract
5 micron size particulate can get into your lower lung
What’s in dust?
Fire retardants from plastics in our house
Nuisance dust not otherwise specified
Break along both axis making the fibers breathable
Asbestos is a natural occurring mineral and is inorganic
Our bodies cannot digest asbestos fibers. When they deposit in your lung, your lung will try to digest the foreign body and it cannot digest it. Scar tissue will form over the fiber causing mesothelioma (cancer of the inner lining of your body only from asbestos – 30 year latency period)
Silica fibers do the same thing
Should you be concerned with fiberglass exposure? Yes! No regulations for it, but you should be concerned, as it is extremely small shards of glass essentially.
Mouse droppings (hanta) – spray with Lysol to prevent particles from becoming airborne and spreading
Bird droppings (histoplasmosis)
Underwriters Lab – Average home has 1700 lbs of plastic in it
NIST Video of room containing legacy (all wood older furniture and natural fibers) versus modern (modern plastics, fabrics, etc.) – modern flashover time 3:40 / legacy flashover time: 30 minutes
You could be going into these environments for recovery
Modern room = more and more toxic during the fire and after
One type of glove is not sufficient for all of the different chemicals you may use in your practice
E.g. Nitrile gloves are not recommended for Methyl Ethyl Keytone
Check with the glove manufacturer for their Chemical Resistance
Glove Breakthrough Times – USE CHARTS made by glove manufacturer e.g. Ansell
For mixtures of solvents, get a glove that covers all solvents. If not available, use the one that has the highest concentration in the overall mixture
Latex – overall poor choice because they are very porous and latex allergy
Chemical in the eyes – anything that can splash
Amount in container doesn’t matter – if it can splash, it’s an eye hazard
Studies show that a person raise their hands to their face once every 20 minutes
Ingestion occurs from hand to mouth activity
Standing water of unknown origin could be sewage contamination
Can be sampled for e-coli – litmus test for sewage – can do this dry – can be there weeks, months later
Test results are a week turnaround time – not a quick test
Hepatitis B can survive up to 7 days in blood
Hepatitis A can survive up to 7 days in sewage
Wash your hands A LOT
Handwashing: antibacterial soap NOT a good idea because it kills good and bad bacteria – use alcohol-based sanitizer if no handwashing stations available
What is proper handwashing? – 15-20 seconds! Sing Happy Birthday twice! Soap up and vigorous rubbing
Artificial nails harbor a LOT of bacteria (ewww)
CDC has a video on proper handwashing to the tune of Rolls Royce’s “Car Wash” (dance while washing your hands!)
Look for in hotel under sheets and mattress pad/ cover– little ink spots from ballpoint pen – fecal matter from the bedbug (ick)
Kill with heat treatment!
In one instance in a building infestation, propane heaters were placed in the building and heated up to 160F degrees for four hours
They apparently have dogs that sniff out bed bugs and mold too!?! Apparently bed bugs give off an odor… eww…
Eye wash ASAP! FAST!!!
Run eye wash 1x / month for maintenance
Engineer your hazard out – splash injury – use dispensing bottle, smaller amounts so less risk for splashing
Wear goggles with contact lenses – contact lens can fuse to eye
New eye protection standards in latest AIC News
Common causes of chemical eye burn
Ammonia, bleach, and toilet bowl cleaner
Vinegar and glass polish
Dishwasher detergent, oven cleaner, drain cleaner
Contact lens cleaner
Car battery fluid
PPE for eye protection
Safety glasses and face shield
Proper lifting techniques
Elbows tucked into torso versus stretched arm
Bending at waist to pick up something versus bending legs
Keep load close to your body – no outstretching – same for typing, or reaching for the phone
Arms tucked tight into your torso biceps doing the work
Some extension but not full
Full extension of arms
Full extension of torso
Back brace serves as reminder to use legs, but does not provide support
Seat position: two finger width distance between knee and edge of chair
Slide seat panel out for long legs
Back support for some chairs – adjustable
Minimum PPE for Emergency Response
Thin nitrile gloves
N95 filtering face piece
½ mask respirator with cartridges
Steel toed shoes
How often should you replace PPE?
ALWAYS if the respirator face piece shows any signs of deterioration, cracks, etc. or if the inhalation valves are cracked, warped, or missing
Check with the manufacturer for specific shelf-life years
Generally speaking they should be replaced every 5 years
Immediately if there are excessive scratches or damage
10 years otherwise
Immediately if scratches/ damaged
Every 3 years
Stored in a response bag
Replace with new gloves every year
During the workshop, they put this phosphorescent powder on our handouts to see how much we touched our faces! LOVE IT!!! I didn’t touch my face because I was so busy typing for this blog…
Portable UV light was used to detect powder – UV 5X shortest wavelength (340 nm I think was the shortest wavelength for the light)
She listed the standard “dos and don’ts” that we all know we should do… but often don’t do. Listing the standard dress code, don’t wear open toed shoes, tie your hair back cited the Yale example of the girl who died in the chemistry lab this past year.
General safety rules: no food and drink – cross contamination. Know the equipment you’re using, know where all safety gear is, bucket of safety glasses by the door for visitors
Health hazards in the lab: organic solvents, chemistry professor died from mercury poisoning after a small drop of dimethylmercury got on her glove. Post doc wearing wrong glove when working with concentrated sulphuric acid – 2nd degree burns
Electricity and water don’t mix
Is the power off when they told you?
Is the power on when they told you?
Circuit alert non-contact voltage tester – non-contact (device to detect conductivity). Also one for testing the lights in your Christmas lights
Wear the right footwear – electrical insulating, steel toe, high enough to keep socks dry
Use HEPA filter vacuums ONLY
In response stay with the herd, use the buddy system, have a meeting point in case you get separated
When people won’t wear PPE:
Fire fighters – “like teaching safety in a frat house” (I thought that was HILARIOUS BTW) – SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) needs to stay on because they enter “chemical soups” that our half face masks couldn’t handle
Legal issues with handing out masks to laypersons e.g. firefighters handing out masks to homeowners after a fire
Think of it this way in terms of people refusing to wear PPE: give people the knowledge and then if they choose not to wear PPE, then they know the risk
Responding to after fire, formaldehyde is the biggest danger as a carcinogen. Use CBRN canister (Chemical, Biology, Radiological and Nuclear) that protects against formaldehyde
If you find any errors, spelling errors, etc. please let me know and I will be happy to change them! Thanks so much.