Microbiological and entomological analysis

Microbiological and entomological analyzes for archives, libraries and museums

Archives, libraries and museum deposits are places naturally exposed to the risk of biological attacks. Moulds, bacteria and insects can proliferate in environments designated for conservation and damage, even irreparably, the archival and book heritage for various reasons. The most important are: the alteration, even for a short period of time, of the corrections storage microclimatic parameters (in particular temperature and relative humidity); the presence of dust deposits attributable to failure to carry out maintenance and repair activities at regular intervals dedusting; the acquisition of contaminated works, fonds or collections; the excessive anthropic impact by visitors and users; the lack of barriers and filters to control external pollution; the operation of uncleaned and unmaintained air conditioning systems.

A high risk of infections is also associated with the occurrence of micro-disasters – such as pipe and duct ruptures, infiltrations, etc. –, or of major catastrophic events – such as floods, fires and consequent shutdowns, earthquakes. The contact of archival and book assets with water, even for a few hours, is in fact sufficient to induce the development and propagation of moulds, fungal spores and bacteria capable of irreversibly deteriorating paper or parchment supports.

In addition to the certified sanitization, disinfection and disinfestation activities – carried out both on site and in the company, through a unique fleet of machines in Italy – Fratielivi offers its customers a series of laboratory services provided by professionals. These services are dedicated to the recognition, eradication and contrast of biodeteriogens and focused on diagnostics, control, monitoring and prevention.

The characterization of biological degradation and the certification of the results of the disinfection and disinfestation procedures

Before starting the disinfection, disinfestation and possibly restoration operations, it is good to know and delimit the origin of the problem in order to implement the most correct intervention strategy. To precisely define the quantity and vitality of infecting agents and pests, as well as their degree of danger towards the artistic-cultural asset to be protected and, in some cases, human beings, Fratielivi avails itself of the intervention and of the skills of some professional figures. In particular, conservation scientists and microbiologists belonging to the order and experts in the preparation and conduct of appropriate laboratory tests for movable cultural heritage of archival, book and museum interest.

These examinations and laboratory tests are always conducted or carried out through: non-invasive sampling and, in the case of insects, through appropriate captures with entomological traps; microscopic, biochemical, cultural and, in some cases, DNA instrumental investigations. These performances allow:

  • the determination of the bacterial and fungal load
  • the determination of the microbial activity
  • the taxonomic recognition of biodeteriogenic microbial species
  • the recognition of the entomological weeds species (woodworms, termites, silverfish, moths, etc.)

After the disinfection and disinfestation interventions, the protocol adopted by Fratielivi provides for the conduct of further laboratory analyses. These final checks constitute a further guarantee for Fratielivi’s customers. They are aimed at certifying and therefore certifying the sanitization and disinfestation of the materials subjected to the treatments.

Monitoring of conservation environments: investigations, techniques and tools for preventive conservation

To effectively combat the development of mold and insects in archives, libraries and museums, it is possible to adopt a series of preventive measures. They can contribute both to slowing down the natural degradation of archival and library assets, and to reducing the costs of any restoration work. The focus of the solutions offered by Fratielivi in this area is the conservation environment.

The protective actions proposed by the company include:

  • air quality analyzes
  • aerobiological investigations
  • entomological monitoring
  • microclimatic monitoring through dataloggers
  • the supply of systems for restoring and maintaining optimal hydroclimatic conditions, such as the INT4SAN air purifier

The solutions offered by the company for preventive conservation include, upon request, the supply of certified containers for long-term conservation. These containers, produced, also custom-made, by the Fratielivi paper converting division, allow the reconditioning of the sanitized and disinfested paper and membrane material in compliance with the law.


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