Impact of volatile organic compounds on the degradation of cellulose

Project description

High levels of volatile organic compounds (1-10 ppm) can concentrate in the headspace of an archival box, arising from the degradation of the paper archives as well as from the construction materials of the box. The hygrothermal equilibrium between the materials and the ambient air leads to dynamic cycles of emission/absorption/desorption of these compounds. The mobility inside the cellulosic fibres of molecules that promote degradation represents a threat for the stability of the object in the long-term. The research aims at identifying deleterious gas phase compounds through direct or cross-contamination, and at quantifying the degradation induced. The impact of several volatile compounds with acid, aldehyde and peroxide functionalities has been evaluated on model papers in real exposure conditions, alone and in mixtures. The volatile compounds were chosen among those previously identified and quantified in the emissions from papers and those present in indoor environments or in microenvironments of archival boxes.


  • Canadian Conservation Institute (Canada), Centre scientifique et technique du bâtiment (France)

Funding source (partial)

  • French Culture council (program 2006-2009)

Further reading

  • (2009) Ramalho, O., Dupont, A.-L., Egasse, C., Lattuati-Derieux A. Emission rates of volatile organic compounds from paper. E-Preservation Science Journal 6, 53-59.
  • (2013) Tétreault , J., Dupont , A.-L., Bégin P., Paris, S. The impact of carbonyl and hydrogen peroxide vapours on cellulose degradation under ambient hygrothermal conditions. Polymer Degradation and Stability, in press