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Technical Blog

Let's bee clear about... protecting history

  • 04.03.2020-
  • Rebecca Goldsmith
Gallery room with seats and paintings

Rebecca Goldsmith explains how clearer indoor air quality can help preserve some of our most precious pieces of history…

A constant preoccupation for conservationists and museum curators, the clarity of indoor air can significantly affect the lifespan of ancient or fragile objects—in much the same way as people feel the effects of poor indoor air quality!

To this end, the indoor air quality of museums and galleries must be consistently monitored and levels of formaldehyde and other VOCs maintained at the lowest level possible, for the wellbeing of their displays, and of course their staff and visitors.

Achieving this doesn’t just extend to ventilation, although this is extremely important. The first step is actually to consider the wood-based building materials used for interior fit outs.

As formaldehyde is produced naturally in trees, it’s therefore present at very low, safe levels in all wood products. The issue starts when formaldehyde-based resins, often used to bind together composite wood panel products, are added to the mix.

As places that naturally must use a huge amount of display cases, plinths, and other (often bespoke) apparatus to display their collections, all most often made out of wood, museums and galleries have a significant need for no added formaldehyde wood panels that can help ensure the wellbeing of their artefacts.

Working to provide a sustainably manufactured solution to this, MEDITE SMARTPLY developed MEDITE CLEAR, a no added formaldehyde versatile MDF, formulated especially for use in museums and other applications where maintaining clear indoor air quality is of the highest importance.

A harmless concentration of formaldehyde contains less than 1.0 mg per 100g, which is the equivalent to the level in wood found in the natural environment. With absolutely no formaldehyde added, MEDITE CLEAR even outperforms the stringent class E1 (EN 622-1) low formaldehyde standards.

During a recent refurbishment, Tipperary Museum extensively put MEDITE CLEAR to the test, using it throughout its brand-new interior fit out.

Over time, curators at the museum reported “a definite, tangible impact in the lifespan of an ancient or fragile artefact when it’s housed in a case constructed with MEDITE CLEAR compared to one made with regular wood panels.”

A clear winner!