Low-technology dust monitoring for historic collections

Helen E. Lloyd, Carlota M. Grossi, Peter Brimblecombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A qualitative understanding of the particles in dust and their sources helps to identify ways to reduce the accumulation of dust within historic houses. Knowing the possible sources of dust helps to suggest preventive steps. Simple low-technology methods enable rapid identification of dust deposits and require little specialist equipment. Dust samples can be collected on sticky surfaces for examination with a hand lens or microscope. The size of particles and fibres, and amount of surface coverage, can be estimated roughly using a graticule or coverage chart. An atlas of common dust components aids identification of soil dust, soot, insects, plant fragments, hair, skin, paint/plaster, clothing fibres, paper, food and mould. A mixture of fine dust is resolvable into a range of particle and fibre types. Long exposures of sticky samplers, with an estimate of the area covered by dust, indicate the rate of deposition and suggest the cleaning frequency necessary to prevent negative visitor reactions. The atlas lists suppliers and sources of information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-114
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Institute of Conservation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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