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Friday, May 30 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Book and Paper Session) Salvage of Paper Materials from the Flooding of São Luiz do Paraitinga

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São Luiz do Paraitinga, is a city in Brazil with a rich history and valuable and irreplaceable cultural and historical heritage of the country. Founded in 1769, its rich heritage are materialistic and non-materialistic regional culture. As a result of climate change, on January 1st, of 2010 the city was hit by a devastating flood resulting in the loss and destruction of most city. Many historical and public buildings, monuments and houses suffered damage in their structures and there were losses of documental and digital patrimony. Most of the population lost their legal identity in this disaster. Personal documentations, retirement paperwork, medical sign off certificates, maternity leave, legal records, contracts, and others that were completely damaged by the water. These documents are essential for the State Administration and for the citizens who get through these documents a legal recognition of their civil service to this country.

The Nucleus for Conservation of Public Files of São Paulo - APESP and the Nucleus of Restoration-Conservation Edson Motta, laboratory del National Service for Industrial Apprenticeship (NUCLEM-SENAI), worked in conjunction to save these documents. These holdings were comprised by three main allotments: the first two were 800 files of different thickness, with 14 linear meters of documents from the 1970s up to today with a variety of type and paper dimensions, multiple handwritten inks and printing processes, photos and reprographic copies; and the third one had 176 files with 3.52 linear meters and with similar characteristics.

Due to bureaucratic reasons, the access to the Municipal Government and Public Ministry documents was only authorized 26 days after the flooding. So, the first group of collections sent to the Archive was in an advanced state of deterioration, with all documents pasted together with fungus, debris and mud inside drawers which were also very dirty.

In Brazil there are not many references of events of this dimension as well as Portuguese literature about these subjects is rather scarce. There were no trained staff for the response operation to then work with materials so degraded nor specialized salvaging companies, nor available for drying, freezing or to use lyophilisation equipments. With limited financial resources and no time to come up with a “big plan” but only what was necessary for a practical courses of action. A completely manual method was established to recover these documents. The procedures were all compatible with technical methods and criterias of paper conservation practices thus were developed at APESP laboratory in Sao Paulo.

Due to misinformation, the documents belonging to the third allotment were kept wet in black plastic rubbish bags. They were sent to APESP after three months. As a result, the material was strongly infected by a variety of fungus. Using traditional methods to fight such a big infection, even drying the material, would certainly not give effective results. It would also jeopardize the technicians health as well as future end-users. It was also known that afterwards they would not be housed in a controlled environment which would put in danger the full collection of the place where they were. It was decided therefore, to submit the documents to gamma-rays cobalt-60 from a multipurpose compact type from the Radiation Technology Centre for Nuclear and Energy Research Institute - CTR-IPEN. A dose of disinfectant was applied to reduce the bio burden. It is well known that doses used for sterilizing are considered way too high for materials based on cellulose because it degrades them.

Comparing the third allotment with the first and second which did not receive irradiation, it was possible to notice many advantages during the recovery tasks, as well as an easier mechanical cleaning process, spores removal, separation of pasted sheets in spite of its advanced state of degradation caused by the improper storage and method of mass-stabilization.

Other advantages noticed in the ionizing radiation process are that there is no need for quarantine; no toxic or radioactive residuals are produced; it can be applied to large quantities and varieties of materials simultaneously, and to the documents transportation package; it is a fast procedure and costs are acceptable; it is an environmental friendly method. Instead of manual, the adopted processes guaranteed 95% recuperation of these documents sent to us. It allowed to give documents back to the city of São Luiz do Paraitinga in conditions that permit both manipulation and research as well as a detailed cataloging of these documents and their content. This made possible the recuperation of very important records for Luizenses citizens and the mass of the population citizenship documents were rescued and made possible for them to finally recover their legal existences.

avatar for Fernanda Mokdessi Auada

Fernanda Mokdessi Auada

LACS Recipient, SENAI - National Service for Industrial Apprenticeship_x000D_
Graduated in History from University of São Paulo (1993), has specialty in PAPER PRESERVATION. Technical teaching at SENAI "Theobaldo de Nigris, "working on paper preservation, conservation science and education and training. Currently takes part at IPEN - Nuclear and Energetics... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 11:00am - 11:30am PDT
Grand Ballroom A