Museum Conservation and Humidity Control

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Museum Conservation: Healthy Humidity & Indoor Air Quality

4 minute read

Museum conservations help preserve a collection of unique and priceless artifacts, whether it’s articles, artwork, tools, or other important pieces. Their goal is to keep these artifacts intact indefinitely. Using a combination of humidity control, light control, and air filtration, museums help preserve these pieces for successive generations to enjoy.

Museum Conservation: Preserving Artwork and Artifacts 

Preserving these different media is a tricky job. You’re sort of learning as you go. The modern system of museum conservation is rooted in World War II. Citizens and museum workers placed the artwork in makeshift underground mines and subway tunnels to protect them from bombings. They found out that the pieces were well maintained and concluded that cool, dry, and stable environments were the ideal environments for preservation.

In the decade following World War II, art museums used a combination of humidifiers, thermostats, and central air to balance human comfort with the best environment for the different artwork gallery museum exhibits. This was a temperature of around 70 degrees and relative humidity hovering between 45-55%. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers in their own studies has found this the ideal range to reduce dust, pests, and other corrosive materials that can damage artifacts such as mold and mildew.

Managing Corrosive Materials

Airborne pollutants react poorly with the different dyes, pigments, and other materials. A proper HVAC system is about the only line of defense these artifacts have.

Reactions are usually small and can be easily managed by conservationists. Any strong and quick reaction leaves the artwork permanently damaged or destroyed. Dust is one of the biggest irritants for conservationists. Proper humidification is integral to limiting dust. It’s a highly corrosive material that can wreak havoc on all mediums. Outside of dust, proper humidification keeps wood from rotting and splitting, and leather from stiffening.

Archivists placed more unstable materials such as minerals and metals in their own microclimates. Humidity, temperature, and air filtration are more closely monitored by conservationists in these separate areas.

Edvard Munch’s The Scream: A Case-Study in Museum Conservation

An Oslo, Norway art museum also quickly learned a lesson recently about proper humidification. They noticed deterioration on Norwegian painter Edvard Munch’s The Scream. A team of scientists decided to figure out what was causing this issue. Thieves stole the painting in 2004. Police recovered the painting in 2006. The museum’s gallery has rarely displayed the painting in public since the recovery.

The scientists determined that the cadmium sulfide pigments when exposed to a relative humidity of 95% they turned to cadmium sulfate. Scientists were able to conclude that high levels of moisture, not light, was the biggest culprit.  This knowledge will help preserve other pieces completed around the same timeframe. Since the study, The Scream has returned to the museum.

Constanza Miliani, the study’s author, said, “This kind of work shows that art and science are intrinsically linked and that science can help preserve pieces of art so that the world can continue admiring them for years to come.”

Museum Conservation & Humidity Control

AprilAire

In Kansas City, MO sits the Piano Technicians Guild building. This 14,000 square foot building includes a museum. This exhibit includes a collection of historical pianos and early tuning instruments. An AprilAire dehumidifier was installed in 2007 to help preserve the museum’s collection of important music artifacts, including the grand piano that was on stage the night President Lincoln was assassinated in Ford Theatre. Preserving this and other pianos in the area will help the museum.

“Keeping the humidity level around your piano as constant as possible will help it stay in tune longer as well as slow such damage as soundboard cracks, loose tuning pins, and glue joint failures.”

Dristeem

AprilAire’s sister company, DriSteem, manufacturer of commercial dehumidifiers has used their humidification expertise to help two museums preserve historical pieces. The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY is an aviation museum that houses many early aviation artifacts. The building’s relative humidity fluctuated between 3-10 percent. A DriSteem Humidifier helped eliminate those concerns to preserve history for fans of early flight collections.

The company also did a case study for the National Museum of Music in Calgary, Canada. Due to the museum’s location, the area is fairly dry. These conditions could lead to major issues in preserving those artifacts. DriSteem’s recommendations will help Canada and the world enjoy important pieces of Canadian cultural history.

Housed in the Smithsonian’s National Archives is a book about humidity control. The author, Bernard Morton, worked for DriSteem and received a patent for his work on the steam humidification cabinet.

Museum Conservation and HVAC

As we push into the second decade of the 21st century, the scientific advancements in HVAC engineering have provided conservationists a better opportunity to provide the perfect micro-climate for each museum exhibit.

Although museum exhibits can appear stuffy due to the plethora of no touching signs and security guards monitoring you, that is not their intention. In fact, it’s for the sake of the different artifacts. Due to the volatility of pieces, conservationists are simply trying to help slow the rate of degradation.

Increasing scientific advancements will help museums better conserve important artifacts for successive generations. Healthy air will play an integral role in both the preservation of these collections and your family’s health.

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Much of the information for this article was provided by Gregory Dale Smith, a Senior Conservation Scientist at Newfields. Smith helps preserve many of the Indianapolis Art Museum Exhibits. Newfields comprises the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Fairbanks Park, The Garden, Lilly House, and the Elder Greenhouse.

Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month

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Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month

2 minute read

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The fall season is bringing cooler temperatures to many regions of the country. That means you and your family will likely be spending more time indoors, making October a fitting time to recognize “National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month.”

Why should you care about Indoor Air Quality? One reason is the amount of time we spend in indoor spaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors, where pollutants can be concentrated 2–5 times higher than in the air outdoors.

On top of that, innovations in home construction that increase efficiency by tightly sealing homes from outdoor conditions also trap more pollutants indoors. These pollutants are increasing with the growing prevalence of synthetic building materials and off-gassing from things like household cleaners and furniture.

AprilAire’s Plan for Healthy Air Awareness

Now that you know why Indoor Air Quality is something you should be aware of, let’s figure out what you can do to ensure your home is a healthy environment.

At AprilAire, our focus is on the health and wellness of your home. We’ve assembled the AprilAire Healthy Air System® to help protect you and your family from polluted indoor air. It provides:

  1. Fresh Air Ventilation — Helps dilute and remove contaminants from indoor air, and brings in fresh air from the outdoors
  2. Air Filtration — Aprilaire MERV 16 Allergy & Asthma Filters capture up to 99% of airborne particles (Contaminants removed based on air passing through the filtering system.)
  3. Humidity Control — Keeping humidity between 40–60% minimizes virus survival rates, makes the environment more comfortable, and can lower energy costs
  4. Radon Testing and Mitigation — Testing helps detect radon early, so an AprilAire Radon Control Professional can redirect any harmful gas away from your home
  5. IAQ Zone Controls — Precise monitors and controls are designed to ensure a comfortable environment throughout your home

Let’s take a closer look at one of the most crucial aspects of healthy indoor air as we head into the cold, dry months—balanced humidity.

Itchy skin, dry sinuses, and static shock are all signs of low humidity in your home. One of the best investments you can make to improve comfort and wellness during the winter is an AprilAire whole-home humidifier.

Balanced humidity feels warmer and maintains heat better than dry air, so your home feels more comfortable without the extra strain on your heating system.

On top of comfort and cost savings, proper humidity control also promotes better sleep, preserves valuables in your home, and makes it harder for viruses to survive.

October is the perfect time to assess the health and comfort of your indoor air. If you find issues you need to address, reach out to an AprilAire Healthy Air Pro to find solutions that will make a real difference for your home environment.

Capture Back to School Germs

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AprilAire MERV 16 Air Filters Capture Back-to-School Germs

2 minute read

Tens of millions of students are heading back to school and will start sharing the same air with many different people for several hours a day. In what is known as the “back-to-school plague,” these first few weeks provide a fertile breeding ground for both students (and their families) to get ill due to the swapping and recirculating of aerosols. Luckily, there is a solution.

Use AprilAire MERV 16 Air Filters with AprilAire Whole-House Air Purifiers

Coughing and Sneezing Facts

Use AprilAire MERV 16 Air Filters to capture back-to-school germs from coughing and sneezing.

Using an AprilAire whole-house air purifier with an AprilAire MERV 16 Air Filter can help protect you and other family members at home from the common cold, influenza, and other airborne viruses that crop up throughout the school year.

Capture Infected Aerosols

AprilAire MERV 16 air filters capture 98% of airborne viruses that flow through the filtering system reducing the number of infected aerosols that are in your home’s air. These highly efficient filters add an extra layer of protection against poor handwashing and respiratory etiquette.

Sneezing and coughing expel aerosols into the air at speeds of 50–100 miles per hour propelling them 3– 6 feet from their host. Without a proper air filter, some of these aerosols may linger in the air for several hours, get picked up by your HVAC system’s ducts, and infect people in completely different rooms.

Reduce In-Home Respiratory Irritants

AprilAire MERV 16 air filters also protect your home’s air from other respiratory irritants like dust, dander, and pollen which can trigger health problems like asthma attacks or allergies and can settle on your home’s furniture. AprilAire MERV 16 filters capture 99% of asthma and allergy triggers that flow through the filtering system offering superior HVAC system protection and up to a 6-month filter life.

Upgrading your home’s air filters to MERV 16 can help keep you and your family healthy.

Choose Your AprilAire Air Filter

Use AprilAire MERV 16 Air Filters for superior protection.

Purchase MERV 16 Air Filters

Contact your local AprilAire Healthy Air Professional to get started with MERV 16 filtration today. You can also purchase AprilAire MERV 16 filters directly from the AprilAire website where they will be shipped directly to your home. You can install the filters yourself or contact your local professional or the AprilAire support team for assistance.

Upgrading Whole-House Healthy Air Solutions

Upgrading air filters from MERV 13 to MERV 16 in your whole-house air purifiers can help capture germs to better protect your student and your family throughout the school year.

For complete and effective whole-house virus protection, contact your local Healthy Air Professional about the AprilAire Healthy Air System®. This unique, all-in-one system provides whole-house filtration, humidity control, fresh air ventilation, zoning control, and radon mitigation for Healthy Air throughout

Interview with the American Lung Association

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Breathing Healthy Air: Interview with the American Lung Association

4 minute read

At AprilAire, we encourage breathing Healthy Air because we know it benefits your overall health. The American Lung Association knows it too. That’s why AprilAire air filters are the National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association*, playing a key role in the fight to improve lung health and prevent lung disease.

We got to interview National Senior Vice President of Development Sally Draper about the importance of Healthy Air and how both AprilAire and the American Lung Association are working together to help you Breathe the Fullness of Life.

Could you introduce yourself for the readers and tell us about why you chose a career with the American Lung Association?

“I joined the Lung Association in 2014 because I was attracted to its comprehensive mission—to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Every day we help Americans breathe easier through our efforts to fund innovative research, advocate for policies that protect our lungs, and educate patients, caregivers, providers, and the public with science-backed information. We were founded more than 115 years ago, and the needs are greater today than ever before, including the youth vaping epidemic, climate change, and COVID-19!”

Can you tell us about the American Lung Association’s mission?

“The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; champion clean air for all; improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and create a tobacco-free future. Whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or advocating for laws that protect the air we breathe, the work of the American Lung Association helps to save lives every day.”

How did AprilAire and the American Lung Association come to work together in the first place? What does that relationship look like presently?

“AprilAire and the American Lung Association forged a new relationship in 2018. We quickly realized how much we had in common. Our partnership was developed as we saw an opportunity to educate and help more consumers improve the air in their homes to create a healthier environment.

Since 2020, AprilAire has been a Proud Partner of the Lung Association with its 4” residential air filters. Additionally, AprilAire joined the Lung Association as our FY20 National Fight For Air Climb Partner For Healthy Air. The company has also supported the Lung Association’s “Stand Up For Clean Air” campaign. As part of this initiative, we are driving conversations around air quality, climate, and health. The Lung Association invited people to share their #MyCleanAirStory—knowing that when people realize climate and air quality are impacting the health of their neighbors, friends, and loved ones—they are more willing to act. AprilAire provided prizes for the #MyCleanAirStory contest, including one grand prize of a whole-home Indoor Air Quality upgrade (the AprilAire Healthy Air System®) and nine AprilAire Room Air Purifiers. This year, the company stepped up once again to sponsor the Wisconsin Fight For Air Climb in Milwaukee. Also in 2021, the Lung Association welcomed Dale Philippi, President and CEO of Research Products Corporation, AprilAire’s parent company, to the Lung Association’s Wisconsin Leadership Board of Directors.”

Tell us about the Fight For Air Climb.

“The American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb is the nation’s premier stair climbing challenge. At 38 events nationwide, children and adults of all ages participate in this celebratory stair-climbing adventure. Pre-pandemic, the Fight For Air Climb was held in several of our country’s most iconic skyscrapers. This year, the Lung Association invited participants outdoors for a one-of-a-kind adventure to support healthy lungs and clean air. In fact, Dale was among the company’s team of more than 50 employees that climbed the stairs at Milwaukee’s American Family Field on May 22nd, proving he puts his feet, time, and talent behind causes he supports.

AprilAire has been a stalwart partner in the Fight For Air Climb, promoting the event to employees, customers, trade partners, family, and friends. Through this unique vehicle, the company is engaging individuals of all ages to understand and celebrate the importance of Healthy Air.”

AprilAire’s air filters are a National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association. How do you feel our mission aligns with yours?

“Our CEO, Harold Wimmer, has said, ‘Breathing should not be an uphill battle, but for many it is… no one should have to fight for air on a daily basis.’ Similarly, Dale has declared, ‘We believe everyone deserves to breathe Healthy Air.’ As a National Proud Partner, AprilAire’s mission to enhance everyone’s health by improving the air in their homes aligns very closely with that of the American Lung Association, champion of clean air for all.”

What are the benefits of breathing Healthy Air and what are everyday things that people can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life?

“Clean air is essential for healthy lungs. The American Lung Association works to ensure that the air we breathe is clean and safe from harmful pollution. In fact, every year we publish our State of the Air Report, which looks at two of the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants, ozone and fine particulate matter. Our 2021 State of the Air Report found that more than 4 in 10 Americans—over 135 million people—are living in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

One of the most important things you can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life is to keep sources of pollution out of your home. Check out these commonsense tips on Lung.org. Additionally, ventilation helps reduce indoor air pollution, but it works best if paired with keeping known sources of air pollution out of the building. For tips on how to use ventilation to protect your lung health, check out our section on Ventilation: How Buildings Breathe.”

Fight for Healthy Air

At AprilAire, we believe everyone deserves to Breathe the Fullness of Life, and we’re not the only ones that feel this way. Through our Proud Partnership with the American Lung Association, we aim to fill every home with Healthy Air. Both AprilAire and the Lung Association believe that breathing Healthy Air should be available to everyone, and maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality is an important step for your lung health. Read more about our partnership and the efforts of the American Lung Association on their website.

*Disclaimer: The American Lung Association does not endorse any product, device, or service.

2021 Good Neighbor Values

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2021: AprilAire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

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We take the importance of caring for others to heart at AprilAire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

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What Causes Static Shocks in the Winter?

2 minute read

 

As soon as the temperatures drop, the snow starts falling, and the furnace kicks in, you may start noticing a lot more static shocks as you move around your home. Why are static shocks so common in the wintertime?

Let’s review some common sources of static shocks this time of year, and find out how to avoid them.

Dry Air

Humidity level is the biggest factor when it comes to static shocks. Dry air is a conduit for those painful zaps because it doesn’t allow electric charges to dissipate and find balance in the same way moist air does. This causes some items to gain a positive charge, leading to a sudden transfer when they come into contact with negatively charged items.

To offset the prevalence of static shocks during dry, cold weather, you can maintain a balanced humidity level in your home between 40–60%. This will allow electrons to harmlessly move to the moisture in the air, rather than sit on surfaces, waiting to shock you when they transfer rapidly.

As a bonus, balanced humidity can also reduce your energy costs in the winter by making your home feel warmer at lower temperatures.

Clothing Materials

Certain fabrics are more likely to have a negative charge and lead to static shocks. Wool, nylon, and polyester clothing are the most susceptible. For instance, you may notice a static shock when putting on a wool winter hat.

Additionally, rubber-soled shoes will contribute to the buildup of electricity as you move across things like carpeting. This is less of a problem with leather-soled shoes.

Clothes Dryer

Dryer sheets have anti-static properties that reduce the likelihood of clothes sticking together in the dryer, and of clothes creating a static shock when you touch and wear them. You can also rub dryer sheets on areas where you often feel a static shock, like door handles or the metal parts of your vehicle.

Around Gas Pumps

In general, static shocks aren’t dangerous even though they’re uncomfortable. The only sites where they could pose a serious problem are at the gas pump or near other flammable areas. Because of this, the American Petroleum Institute recommends touching your metal door to release any static charge before touching the gas nozzle.