Examining the Use of Ozone Test Strips to Detect PVC Plastics in Museums

Mary Coughlin, Gwénaëlle Kavich, G. Asher Newsome, and Qiuhui Wang


Poly(vinyl chloride), more commonly referred to as PVC, is a plastic that is found in nearly all museum collections whether as accessioned items or materials used in storage or exhibition. PVC has the potential to damage materials around it as it degrades and releases hydrogen chloride that can form hydrochloric acid upon exposure to atmospheric water. A product marketed as Ozone Test strips can get a false positive when exposed to chlorine in the atmosphere. This study found that these inexpensive, commercially available test strips can be repurposed to detect hydrogen chloride and hydrochloric acid from degrading PVC and that detection was possible even before signs of degradation, such as weeping or discoloration, were obvious.  

2019 | Uncasville | Volume 26