Integrating the ionizing radiation into archival processing services

The project addresses the topic of preservation of cultural heritage in the field of archival services. The project proposal answers the present and constant need in keeping and preserving paper documents for further demands i.E. Information, historical proofs, cultural heritage etc.

The project is mainly addressing the topic of preservation of paper documents in the field of archival services and library collections. Preservation of written information is a sustained and endless effort started in the last century. If some quantities of information were already converted or generated in electronic format, still extremely large quantity of paper information are institutionally kept in archives, libraries and museums. Because of its degradable nature, paper is difficult to be preserved. Uncontrolled humidity and temperature variations in storage conditions, caused by unpredictable events (floods and other natural disasters, wars etc) or simply the lack of care, are always followed by a massive attack of micro-organisms. Once installed, the biological contamination is difficult to remove and in the field of paper conservation there is a lack of efficient mass decontamination techniques. Among other disinfection techniques (fumigation, oxygen deprivation) irradiation with high energy ionizing radiation seems to be the most effective because of the certainty of the microbicidal effect. The aim of the project is to introduce the gamma irradiation in the archival processing services and document storage activities for micro-biological decontamination purposes. The information kept in archives is on major social and economical interest. Thus, the project is mainly addressed to the conservation of paper documents that are required to be kept as evidence in the field of archival processing services but also for the documents which can become historical proofs and cultural heritage in an unpredictable future. Sterilization services are available in commercial irradiation plants, in almost any European countries (for example IFIN-HH IRASM facility in Romania and GAMMA Laboratory in Serbia). IFIN-HH IRASM facility and Vinca Institute - GAMMA Laboratory as a partner have a long tradition of research in radiation chemistry and physics. They are well equipped for materials characterization and analysis, and operates Co-60 radiation facilities (ones of the industrial scale). Irradiation treatment of paper documents was reported in literature but one of the obstacles of wide application of this technology is given by the large non-uniformity of microbial contamination and degradation status of the paper documents. The specific objectives of this project is to establish: - a methodology for fast evaluation of biological contamination and degradation status of an archive; - a methodology for assessing the need for application of a mass decontamination technique; - a standard working procedure for preparation of archive for the irradiation treatment. The validation and routine tests will be established and performed in cooperation with the R&D partners of the project. The human competences will be developed by acquiring knowledge for the archival services workers, with the following topics: ionizing radiation effects on materials, work safety in working with microbial contamination, regulations and standards. The method of decontamination of paper documents proposed is by irradiation with high energy ionizing radiation. Irradiation treatment of the paper is already proven as a viable alternative mass decontamination technique for paper documents from archives, libraries and other. Recent results show no correlation between the decrease of degree of polymerization and physical – mechanical properties of the paper for a range of irradiation doses bellow 10 kGy. These results are encouraging for introducing the radiation treatment for paper documents as a regular bio-decontamination method of paper documents several countries have recent and/or ongoing research programmes in this topic (Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Netherlands). The gains of Romanian SME resulted from the implementation of the project's results will be in the form of: -development of business by contracting archiving services for highly contaminated paper archives (e.g.: bankrupt companies, archives damaged by natural disasters); - decreased archive processing costs by means of time reduction, minimizing the health hazards for archive workers and savings on equipment costs; - reduction of commercial risk generated by the depreciation or even lost of archives; - reduction of costs for maintenance of the archive storage area. The gains of Serbian consortium will be the cooperation in decontamination of paper documents. The Serbian partner will implement the service of decontamination by gamma irradiation of paper documents. The costs for the radiation treatment are regulated in a very competitive market (medical devices sterilization) and the outsourcing the treatment of highly contaminated archive documents is beneficial for the business operation.
Project ID: 
9 965
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
300 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.