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The Ruinous Effect That Vinegar Syndrome Can Have on Microfilm And Film

Written By: CJ Ferrer - Jan• 30•11

The Ruinous Effect That Can Have on Microfilm And Film

Author: christopher

Today there is concerned with the effects of film and microfilm deterioration and the dangers of losing their vital document archives. Vinegar Syndrome is when the cellulose triacetate used to make film stock begins to break down. The chemical reaction causes acetate ions to interact with moisture to create acetic acid producing the smell by which this condition is named. It has caused an alarm within the industry as valuable history slowly fades away.

The Eastman Kodak Company recognized the damaged effects of Vinegar Syndrome in the fifties. The discovery unfortunately came too later for many film and microfilm collections. This problem has damaged or destroyed more than three-quarters of silent films and 50% of all films stored before 1950 have been lost as a result of this chemical breakdown. Even now, archives worldwide are slowly being destroyed by the acid created in the chemical reaction.

The effects aren’t only harmful for the film, but for those who handle it as well. The fumes associated with the chemical break down sends harmful contaminants into the air causing serious problems for people. Minor effects alone cause dry eyes, itchy skin and problems with breathing. Wearing contacts can cause injury to your cornea when in these environments. Both people and film are at risk from the effects of this problem.

There are proven methods for slowing Vinegar Syndrome. One of these methods is to simply control the storage environment. Storing in area with a lower temperature and lower levels of humidity will increase film and microfilm life. Numerous rules have been established on both storage and maintenance of film stock.

The Image Permanence Institute of Rochester, New York (IPI) has discovered that the ideal condition for storing film are 50% RH in 70′ Fahrenheit which can provide the film with 40 years before the start of Vinegar Syndrom. The condition of the film must also be considered however, when procuring a procedure to save it. This is a common problem with archives that are too aged to be aided by this procedure.

The process of reducing degradation in colder and dry environments is also a point of significance. Though it is usually better to store film in conditions such as these, it is important to maintain some levels of moisture in the are to ensure that the film does not become excessively dry which can result in damage as well.

Another is to use Molecular Sieve technology which can increase the life of one’s archive. The process is a great achievement in deterring Vinegar Syndrom as it has the ability to absorb moisture, acetic acid, and methylene chloride. The means by which the material is packaged also allows for the sieve to breathe. The multiple advantages can be seen with the usage of such technology when preserving the value of an archive. Before it is to late microfilm scanning may be an answer.

With the use of modern science, some film and microfilm can be transferred over to a more reliable medium such as DVD or Blu-Ray. The problem with this process is that not all film can be transferred. The microfilm may be too damaged or the process to transfer it to another medium may be too hazardous for the microfilm to endure. The trip to new mediums may be too far for many of them to travel considering the condition and procedure surrounding it.

In many cases the ideal method of saving an archive is by entrusting the collection to a Restoration Service that is qualified and able to bring it back to a viable condition. Washing and neutralizing the acid that has accumulated on the items are some of the methods that are used to restore film and microfilm. The procedure will also include the repair of damaged areas and the transfer of film via frame by frame FXF procedures. These steps require the avoidance of sprockets and gears that can rip the film and result in more extensive damage. This means that restoration must only be performed by a reputable professional as the process is able to either save or utterly destroy the valuable item.

Both restoration and efforts made to stop damages caused by Vinegar Syndrome are necessary if we wish to preserve the history of the film industry and vital microfilm records. So much has presently been lost as a result of this film aging process. The industry today is now focusing strongly on restoration as dwindling archive might soon be forever lost. New images being created will have the advantages of the knowledge of what has been lost as innovative methods and mediums are designed to save vital records and memories that are well cherished.

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About the Author

Have you ever heard of the vinegar syndrome? It is important to learn about this and microfilm scanning. We are going to share some techniques with you.

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