The toxicity of benzotriazole: Myth and reality

Stephen P. Koob


Benzotriazole, or ”BTA”, as it is commonly known, has been used in conservation for over 30 years, both as an effective corrosion stabilizer and as a corrosion inhibitor for copper and copper alloy artifacts. Increasing rumors and un-researched references to BTA as a carcinogen have unfortunately damaged its successful reputation.

This paper documents the history of BTA, as used in conservation, and traces the origin of the carcinogen suspicion and the concern over its toxicity. Both early and recent studies indicate that there is no evidence that benzotriazole is carcinogenic. Examples and recommendations for the proper use of BTA as a dry chemical and in solution are presented, along with a list of handling precautions for solution preparation and application.

1999 | St. Louis | Volume 6