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Saturday, May 31 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Health and Safety Session) Solvents, Scents, and Sensibility: Swapping - Solvent Substitution Strategies

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New and modified cleaning systems can sometimes replace traditional solvent cleaning. A number of such systems will be presented and discussed.

The simplest approach to minimizing solvent use in testing is to simply mix very small amounts of solvents very precisely to minimize waste and exposure. The discussion will progress to introducing or re-familiarizing conservators with lesser known and less used solvents that are safer for us and the environment.

A number of very toxic solvents are present as contaminants in many of the solvents we use. These can be present either deliberately, as in the case of denatured alcohol, or as a consequence of the difficulty of separating very similar materials as in the case of ethylbenzene in xylenes.

More sophisticated approaches to cleaning systems will be presented. By modifying water we can occasionally create a cleaning system that can replace a solvent. More often, a hybrid system combining water and solvents in an emulsion can solve a cleaning problem, minimize the amount and exposure to the solvents and often allow safer solvents to be used with the same or better results.

Specifically, oil in water emulsions based on Pemulen TR-2, and water in oil systems like Velvesil and silicone-based microemulsions, all introduced to conservation by Richard Wolbers, will be presented and discussed.

These systems are hybrid and while they expose us and the environment to much less solvent, disposal of these systems requires more planning and care. As emulsions contain solvent, they cannot be discharged down the sewer. As they contain water, they should not be put into conventional solvent waste containers. Solvent waste is traditionally stored or disposed of in steel drums. The presence of water in solvent waste must be avoided to prevent corroding of the storage container.

avatar for Chris Stavroudis

Chris Stavroudis

Conservator, Chris Stavroudis, Paintings Conservator
Chris Stavroudis is a private paintings conservator in West Hollywood, California. He developed the Modular Cleaning Program in 2002 as an off shoot of the work of Richard Wolbers and the Gels Cleaning Project at the Getty Conservation Institute.Chris obtained undergraduate degrees... Read More →

Saturday May 31, 2014 11:00am - 11:30am PDT
Pacific Concourse F-G