A Mold Outbreak in Tbilisi, Georgia: Technical and Interpersonal Challenges

A Mold Outbreak in Tbilisi, Georgia: Technical and Interpersonal Challenges


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, DC.>>Fenella France:
I’m Fenella France, chief of Preservation Research
and Testing Division and I want to welcome you to this series of
one of our talks presentations. We are absolutely
delighted today to be able to introduce Randy Silverman, who is well known
to many of you. Randy served as the head of
preservation at the University of Utah Marriott
Library since 1993. He teaches workshops on disaster
planning for the Western States and Territories Preservation
Assistance Service WSTPAS and is recognized for
his national disaster recovery efforts. He has 80 professional
publications and has presented professional
lectures or workshops in 30 states and 13
foreign countries, we’ll ask for a list later. He was given the American
Library Association Banks Harris Preservation award in 2013, received a Fulbright
specialist award in 2014, and was awarded the Utah
Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Gardner prize for outstanding academic
contributions in 2016. When I spoke with Randy last
year and we were starting to talk about some
collaborative research and he mentioned this project. And we were talking about you
know some of the challenges with some of these
larger projects and he very graciously
agreed to come and talk with us about this. So, his presentation today is
a mold outbreak in Tbilisi, Georgia, technical and
interpersonal challenges and please help me
welcome him today. [ Applause ]>>Randy Silverman:
It’s all right, it’s only cords we’re fine. Hello everybody, hello at home. I’m so glad that you’re here. This is a really wonderful
opportunity, so for the people at home today I’m speaking from the lovely Mary
Pickford Auditorium. Do you all remember
Mary Pickford? And I’d like to thank
Fenella France who’s the chief of Preservation Research and
Testing here at the Library of Congress for inviting me and for this opportunity
to speak today. I’d like to thank Alberta Comer
who is my dean at the University of Utah’s Marriott
Library for her support because that’s why I’m here. And I’d like to dedicate
this talk to my mom who died last year while I was
in Georgia, so there’s that. And of course, my better
half, Eileen Hallett Stone, who is maybe watching
from home, we don’t know, and to our colleagues on the
ground doing disaster recovery in Puerto Rico after
hurricane Maria. I’m pleased that the
earthquake yesterday in Honduras did not
cause a tsunami, which would have further
complicated things. And for everybody who
has or will spend time as Gary Frost puts it
in the disaster fields, thank you very much
for your service. I first met Zurab who’s
the library director at the University of Tbilisi on a US State Department
familiarization tour in 2013. He and other Georgian library
directors toured the University of Utah’s Marriott Library and when I showed him our
conservation lab he asked me questions about mold and I didn’t know then what
he was really talking about. But two years later when
this picture appeared in the New York Times captioned
zoo animals on the loose in Tbilisi after
flooding I was concerned and so I contacted
the library to find out if the flood
had affected them. And while the collection
was unharmed by that flood this mold
problem was still going on and it was still a big issue. So, the Blue Shield of Georgia
identified grant possibilities and along with the library’s
conservation department at the university wrote a
cultural heritage emergency stabilization grant to the
Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam. And the first grant was
not successful, but a year and a half later the
second one . So, I arrived in Tbilisi
on January 27th, 2017, which is like a year
ago for a 10-day visit and my hosts were Menana
[phonetic] who is pictured on your left and who is the
head of Blue Shield and Marie who is the paper conservator at Tbilisi State
University Library. Georgia for I had weak
geography as a child, so I’m always curious like
on a map falls under Russia and is situated near
Turkey and Armenia. And I mention for the
people viewing from Georgia that those striped areas
are the territories that were lost during the
2008 Russo Georgian war, that war lasted five days, and the occupation still
affects 20% of the country. When I first arrived,
it had snowed in Tbilisi which is unusual
for them and coming from Florida I thought
it was great to see snow on the palms, this is unusual. I was also able to see some of their wonderful
historic buildings like this 12th century
Orthodox Church and these 19th century
hot baths, which is kind of
a wonderful thing. And there were carts in the
streets selling colorful spices and churchkhela which are
traditional homemade Georgian candle-shaped candies. It’s a really great place,
you should go see it. So, the main library at Tbilisi
State University was built in 1987 and it was out
at the edge of town. This is a part of the
city that was new in 1987 and it was anticipated to grow, but the growth never
materialized after the collapse of the Soviet Union
December of 1991. So, there was a persistent
lack of maintenance money and that’s left this
30-year-old building which is about 400,000 square
feet largely unheated and very run down. In this slide the yellow
parts are the rooms where the rare books are
stored, the top one is on the first floor belowground and the other one is the
second floor above that, but it’s still belowground. And there’s actually another
room on the second floor sort of toward the core of the
building, I’m pointing for those of you at home, I don’t
know if you can see that. So, those rooms were used
for storing rare books for a very long time and
they were the problem. So, we suited up to
go see the rare books. The young woman who’s
holding the key was not amused by our use of personal
protection equipment she thought it was weird and was kind of
put out that it took us so long to prepare to enter this space. She’s waiting tapping
her foot you know. Notice that at the base
of the walls there’s signs of moisture damage, that
was prevalent throughout the building. So, I would constantly see signs that there had been
water damage over time. So, we entered this space and
it’s kind of dark and mysterious and inside we found 80,000
rare books and that’s 80,000 in these multiple rooms,
that were stolen from Germany by the retreating Soviet Army
at the end of World War II. So, in the 1970’s Germany
asked for the books back and they were stored at
two places in Georgia and the other library
gave their books back, they were happy to do it. However, the University of Tbilisi’s books
were badly molded. And so, Germany really wanted
to help, so they offered to come there and they reviewed
the problem several times and finally said you
know it would be easier to bring the books to
Germany and treat the problem where we have a lot of
equipment and facilities. And so, they ran with
that idea for a while, but there was a glitch because
shipping cultural property out of Georgia is against
the law, so then they had to change the law
to be able to do that even though the
books belonged to Germany. And eventually, it just
took years and after like a decade Germany said we
actually, we don’t care anymore, we relinquish our hold on the books they’re
yours, have a nice day. So, they now legally belong
to Tbilisi State University and they’re in good shape
when you open the book. You know they’re rare
European imprints and the paper quality looks
great, there’s no problem until you see the outside. And the outside was coated
with a thick layer of mold and the molds changed,
there was different types, there’s dark molds and
light molds and a kind of patterny [phonetic] mold,
molds like you’ve never seen. In fact, I was speaking
with people at the Centers for Disease Control in the
US and they halfhearted, it was half serious in their
jokes saying you know it’s a shame to destroy
such a rare example of a mature mold
ecosystem and it was. They were really interesting. And in fact, so I’m
there in in January and this is a largely
unheated building, it was freezing cold everywhere
except for a few offices. But I was surprised to see
that this ancient stand of old growth mold was dry
and powdery to the touch in some cases, you could
just like push it away. So, it seemed to me
on first observation that it’s actually growing
and thriving in the summer and hibernating in the winter
and I didn’t know mold did that, so that was interesting to see. So, we started looking for
the source of the water and that orange stripe
represents a 12-inch city watermain that’s running
underneath the street and parallel to the library that has been leaking
apparently for years. And the university claims that
the city water department needs to repair their leaking
pipe, that’s how it’s done in Utah at home right. But the city takes the position
that the pipe is running through university property and
so it’s the university’s problem and there’s been a standoff. So, the willingness
to ignore a problem that was actually causing
standing water in the library at some points made me realize
that the lack of resources was so serious for everyone that
not dealing with problems like this is what
you have to do, so that’s still taking some
adjustment I have to say. So, we examined the
building from the basement to the rooftop looking
for water sources. Don’t you love it I’m in a
basement with my suit on, this is typical for
tourists right. And we used a moisture meter,
which is a really great tool for defining whether or not there is water
active in the walls. So, some of the damage in the walls would not set
off the moisture meter, it was just old damage as
opposed to actively being wet and in some places, there
was active mold growing which was you know
a little weird. And interestingly,
what we were looking for originally was the source
of water coming from the street, from that you know because all
the mold damage seemed to be in those rooms that were on
that side of the building except for that other room
that I mentioned, which is in the core
of the building. And so, it seemed suspicious that the water could reach
the middle of the building without having a central source. So, we checked inside the
plumbing chase for the building which runs parallel to
the stairs, so going up and the plumbing chase
walls were soaking wet. So, the plumbing in
the middle of the core of the building is
leaking, it’s like 30 years of not fixing the pipes right,
it’s a bad problem at home, it’s a bad problem when you
have a big library like this. So, the Georgian National
Center for Disease Control and Public Health
sampled the air and counted the colony forming
units in these Petri dishes, they did lots of testing. The primary fungi
were Aspergillus and the bacteria was nocardia. Their findings though indicated
that and this is a quote, the number of colony
forming units in the library does
not pose a health risk. I was kind of surprised, in
the US we’d shut the building down right, no question
shut it down. And yet, this is kind of the
response that you might get if there’s actually not
a way to deal with this and everybody agrees what
can we do, we can do nothing, we have to accept this. So, I kept running into things
that were a little peculiar in my orientation, but
it was a little scary because in fact the library
is the testing center for the university, there
were about 2,000 people in the building a day and
I talked to some people and they got, they had
gotten sick or were sick and they were worried. So, I met with the
library’s administration, this is Zurab again
back in Georgia and I expressed my concerns
about the health issues and agreed to help diagnose
the problem, try and look for the source of water
and to define a protocol that would allow them to
recover the rare books because in fact the books
looked pretty good except for the outside coating of mold. And so, Marie and Menana helped
assemble a team of local people that included Lowry
[phonetic] who’s here sketching because he’s the one of the
buildings original architects, he was always sketching and
now retired, but he wanted to be part of the project because he still
loved the building and it just it broke his heart
it had not been cared for, which is pretty wonderful. And Lasha [phonetic]
whose got his back to us who’s a really
wonderful man and he’s a preservation
architect. So, we started thinking
about the problem and we met for several days trying to work
out you know what an affordable, underline affordable, culturally
appropriate solution would look like. So, here we see the back
of Menana’s head and Lowry and Lasha and in this picture, we have Giorgi [phonetic]
who’s the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning engineer
who’s joined us and members of the preservation department. I have to hurry now,
that was my mother. Other people who contributed to a proposed solution long
distance included Kirk Lively, who’s the director of
technical services at Belfor. Bernard Mayer, whose Belfor’s
major loss operations person in Europe who actually
volunteered to come to Georgia and set up the drying and
the air ventilation solution for just his travel costs. He was going to come on his
own time and just volunteer to do that, which is
really extraordinary. Allen Rogers at a company
called Zentox in Canada, which is an air purification
company. Ian Poole Corroventa, a supplier of dehumidification
equipment in England. Because there’s a big
problem how are we going to get this stuff to Georgia. And Doctors Cox, Ganser
[phonetic] and Park at the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in
the United States. So, we all agreed as Kirk Lively
put it that the building had to be dried first to stop
the mold bloom, makes sense. So, vacuuming mold off the
books and then returning them to a humid environment only
provides a temporary solution and will allow the mold
to continue thriving. So, Lawry recommended we
dig an architectural gallery on three sides of the building and that’s what the yellow
arrow is pointing to. And a gallery which is
a term I didn’t know is, this is an example of a
gallery I found someplace else, they’re using these. This is an architectural
gallery in this case designed to allow people to see historic
foundations of a building so you could use it
for that purpose. The library’s gallery
would be graded on top, so it would get air ventilation
and people could walk over it. Be bricked on one side so the,
you know, to keep the dirt from caving in and
allow this airspace where the airflow would dry
the walls of the building and prevent moisture from
coming in direct contact with the basement walls
and if it did it would dry because of air circulation. It seemed like a pretty
neat idea, we’re talking about digging a hole around the
building right, pretty simple. So, we took that idea
and presented it to Nunu who is the chancellor for
Tbilisi State University in an hour-long meeting. And we kept the proposal
as simple and cost-effective as possible. So, here I’m presenting
a PowerPoint summation of our recommendations
and I’m using a laptop so that was the most
straightforward way to do that. And in in the room are
also Zurab and there’s Nunu in the background, Marie
and other administrators. So, while I was there the
library people also asked me to give a public lecture on
the causes of mold and ways to mitigate those
kinds of problems. And so, the talk
was well attended, you kind of like
you guys showing up that’s really wonderful. And it was a Saturday
afternoon and we were in the other library, it turned
out there’s another library in the main campus in the
middle of Tbilisi which was neat as a pin right, so
that was also a clue that maybe this other
library wasn’t loved for some reason, I don’t know. So, I gave a talk about what I
think we know as a profession about mold and if
you’ll permit me I’d like to share those
ideas with you. Actually, it’s the core of what
I want to talk about today, it’s the meaningful
part, the takeaway. So, while nobody knows
for certain how many types of mold there are, it’s
estimated that there are between 100,000 and 300,000
species of mold on earth along with the ants and
the buzzards okay. The fungi represent
approximately 3 1/2% of all living species,
so it seems clear to me that mold is not
an afterthought. Common indoor mold species
include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria
and Aspergillus, they’re here, they’re around us. What you may not know this and
this is an interesting thing to consider, one cubic meter of
outdoor air may contain as many as a million spores okay. And a grown person at
rest inhales about two and half gallons
of air per minute. So, what that means is on
average people inhale close to 600,000 spores per
hour all the time okay, interesting right. But inside a moldy building like
that it could be 10 times that, so 600,000 is your minimal
daily dose per hour okay, that’s normal, a normal day. Mycelium is a vegetative part of
the fungi consisting of a mass of branching threadlike hyphae. The white or transparent hyphae
may be minute forming a colony that’s too small to see or the mycelium might
be extensive appearing like very fine fluffy white
threads over the surface. Mycelium is considered
a single organism. Typically mold secrete
hydraulic enzymes mainly from the hyphae tips to
degrade complex biopolymers, biopolymers such as starch,
cellulose and lignin, our stuff right into
simpler monomers that can be absorbed by hyphae. Molds play a vital role in
causing the decomposition of organic matter
that enables recycling of nutrients throughout the
ecosystems, it’s good for us. When mold is ready to reproduce
small treelike fruiting bodies form on the ends of the hyphae. The dusty texture of
many molds is caused by the profuse production of
asexual spores called conidia that grow on the
tree-shaped hyphae. The mode of formation
and the shape of these spores is
traditionally used as the method for classifying molds. These spores come in a variety of colors making the fungus much
more obvious to the human eye at this stage in its lifecycle. So, we like it when it’s pretty
or we don’t really don’t like it when it’s pretty, it depends. When we think of
mold germinating in dark warm damp humid
places we tend to forget that mold also grows in
the refrigerator right. So, the question is and this is
the question for you guys right, how long will a jar
of applesauce stored under Saran wrap be
good to eat right. Three days, a week? Do you have a teenager? If your refrigerator is
working right it’s probably fine for a week right, but if applesauce is forgotten
behind the other groceries for three weeks there might
be a tipping point somewhere. The deal is if food is sitting around for some time it can
cause an activation trigger for mold when the storage
environment is right. Environmental factors that affect mold growth
include the standard environmental factors. Temperature, a refrigerator
in good repair hovers around 37 degrees Fahrenheit or
3 degrees Celsius for my folks at Georgia, but cold,
it’s cold but not frozen. The relative humidity of
applesauce is very humid. Light levels in the refrigerator
are nice and dark right and airflow which is restricted by the Saran wrap
may be an issue okay. So, our Finnish colleagues Hukka
and Vitanen developed a model that characterizes six
stages of mold growth. Of these the first two stages
include no visible sign of mold except under
magnification right, it’s among us but we
can’t really see it. That leads us to remember that
mold may be actively growing around us, but we
are not aware of it. So, if you allow me to anthropomorphize
the question a little. What is the tipping point
at which mold decides that an open jar of applesauce
is fair game all right, when will that occur? And for that I think we
need to call in the experts. So, I’m going to tap into Monty
Python who will try and answer for us the age-old
question, how can you tell when an object is really dead.>>Here’s one, nine pence.>>I’m not dead.>>What?>>Nothing, here’s
your nine pence.>>I’m not dead.>>Here, he says he’s not dead.>>Yes, he is.>>I’m not.>>He isn’t.>>Well, he will be
soon, he’s very ill.>>I’m getting better.>>No, you’re not, you’ll
be stone dead in a moment.>>Oh, I can’t take him like
that, it’s against regulations.>>I don’t want to
go in the cart.>>Oh, don’t be such a baby.>>I can’t take him.>>I feel fine.>>Oh, do us a favor.>>I can’t.>>Well, can you hang
around a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.>>Nah, I got to go on to Robinson’s
they’ve lost nine today.>>Well, when is
your next round?>>Thursday.>>I think I’ll go for a walk.>>You’re not fooling
anyone you know. Look, isn’t there
something you can do?>>I feel happy, I feel happy.>>Ah, thanks very much.>>Not at all. See you on Thursday.>>Right. [ Laughter ]>>Randy Silverman: The earth
does not leave dead things lying around for long. Buzzards and ants and
mold all work to clean up mother nature’s dead to
recycle them back to carbon. It’s part of the complex balance
the governs our lovely blue jewellike and very
hungry planet. For mold the rules are
really quite simple, if it’s breathing it’s not
dead and it’s not food, where there’s breath
there’s life. Wind is just the
planet breathing as far as mold is concerned. So, we should remember it’s when
things get out of equilibrium that mold feels invited
to the feast. So, let’s look at
a couple examples. This is Lascaux Cave some
drawings from Lascaux Cave in southwestern France, we’re
not in France now I’ll clarify that point, though you at
home may be I don’t know. So, the cave contains some
600 paintings believed to be 17,300 years old. It’s among the most significant
cultural artifacts on earth and was inscribed in UNESCO’s
World Heritage list in 1979. Lascaux Cave was discovered
by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat and three friends who were
trying to rescue their dog who had fallen through a
foxhole in September of 1940. You had to be a kid
to find those drawings because they were nowhere
near the entrance of the cave and they were hidden in complete
darkness right, teenagers. Like most caves Lascaux was
perpetually cold and very humid above 95% and it was
free of visible mold. Wanting to share this important
find a large-scale earthwork was begun in 1947. And so, they redesigned
the cave’s entrance to permit visitor access. This permanently and irreversibly changed the
natural equilibrium inside the cave and black mold was
first reported on the walls in 1947 in that same year. The cave opened to the
public July of 1948 and by 1955 Lascaux received
30,000 visitors per year. By 1960, that was 100,000
people which works out to about 1,800 visitors per day
at its peak and an average of 70 people per hour right, things were really
crowded there. In 1950, they put a stairway
and a double access door in and it was designed as
an airlock specifically, that’s indicated
by the blue arrow. During the 1955 tourist season
the cave experienced abnormally high levels of carbon dioxide,
condensation on the walls, and high temperatures. So, what would you do? They put in an HVAC system
in 1958 and it was able to maintain the cave’s
temperature at 57 degrees Fahrenheit which
is 14 degrees C and 95% Rh, normal is 95% Rh right,
that’s interesting right, it doesn’t mold all the
time just because it’s wet. Although this prevented
condensation on the walls discrete green
spots however described by the curator as green
disease were noted in 1960 near the artwork
in the axial gallery. By 1963, this mold
outbreak became denser and extended to the
hall of bulls. The cave was closed to
the public that year and the committee convened
to study the problem. Antibiotics and formalin
were used to kill the mold on the floors and the walls, including the painted
surfaces themselves. That original HVAC system
failed in 1998 after 40 years of service and it was replaced by an improved hydrothermal
regulator in 1999. This precipitated the active
mold event now referred to as the crisis of 2001. Here we see air sampling
being conducted in Lascaux Caves axial gallery. The mold species
determined to be responsible for the outbreak was
identified as Fusarium Solani and here we see visible signs
of the active mold growth in the axial gallery in 2001. So, treatment options were
explored for killing the mold on the walls and paintings
during the crisis of 2001 and these included,
this is radical, gassing Lascaux methyl bromide
raising the carbon levels so the environment would
become lethal to the mold and other biological measures. Each of those ideas
was determined to be too risky for the artwork. In the end, quaternary ammonium which is alkyl dimethyl
benzyl ammonium chloride, which is a fungicide used in the papermaking
industry proved effective. This was used in conjunction with spreading quicklime
on the floors. Quicklime is a caustic
calcium oxide and it was used to raise the cave’s Ph and
dehydrate the microorganisms. Here we see a poultice
containing the fungicide being used directly over the artwork. You’ll be comforted to know that a literature search assured
the participants this approach would prove harmless
to the rock art. A second example of mold
getting its signals crossed due to an environmental
imbalance occurred after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I visited Biloxi Public Library
with my friend Gary Frost where we found some of the
windows broken in the library so there was airflow
inside the building and there were pine
needles on the floor about a foot and a half deep. It was surreal to walk on it,
it’s like walking on mattresses. So, we’re padding lightly
inside of the library, which in fact showed no visible
signs of mold three weeks after the storm, though
it was summertime, it was really hot, very humid. Eventually the building would
be lost to mold however. We did find, however, in the
basement a glass exhibit case that did not get directly
wet, was raised up, but it’s a closed
glass, locked glass case and it contains these baskets
that are completely covered in gray mold, that gray is
not the way the baskets looked before the mold this is after. The rare book room which was
kind of a sequestered space in the building had map drawers
that were when you pulled them out the mold was thriving. And this is an interesting
one okay, inside of a storage cabinet
Gary found this Tyvek envelope that was molding badly, but inside the same storage
cabinet there were paper envelopes with similar books
in them in the same drawer that were not molding. The Tyvek envelope made the
book look like that right, what does that tell us, do
you think I’m leading you? I’m glad you’re a
bunch of smart folks. So, I’d like to look at some
preventive concepts right, to balance that out
a little bit. So, here let’s start with
the great pyramid of Khufu. This is the oldest and
largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex
and it’s also the oldest of the seven wonders
of the ancient world and the only one still
remaining largely intact. A unique feature
of this pyramid is that the king’s burial
chamber is cross-ventilated. Here we can see in the image
air vents that penetrate from the pyramid’s north and
south faces and all the way into the king’s burial chamber. The queen’s chamber also has air
vents and while they’re longer than the vents for the king’s
burial chamber they were never completed. So, they’re 20 feet short
of reaching the outside of the pyramid interesting. But that room was
never used so maybe that explains why they didn’t
bother to complete them or they’re waiting you know. The air vents into the king’s
chamber supply a fresh flow of air in the otherwise
stagnant space. but they’re not straight
channels. The northern air duct for
instance, measures 5 by 7 inches and begins as a dome-shaped vent that penetrates the granite
wall horizontally for 6 inches, changes shape to an
oval that angles upward for another 8 inches, and
then changes shape again to a rectangle that
passes through 160 feet of granite masonry to the
exterior of the pyramid. Additionally, with each
shape shift the duct changes direction, so it first heads due
south, then it heads southwest and then further southwest. So, these air ducts that’s the
actual, it’s a picture it’s hard to make it out until
you focus on it right, but that’s a picture of the
air duct that I just described where it begins in
the king’s chamber. So these, you know, realize
how intentional this is. You had to cut the ducts in the granite blocks before
you laid them in place. This is all preliminary to
actually setting these stones. So, one might argue that this
natural cross-ventilation was needed to provide fresh air
during the pharaoh’s funeral rites which were performed by porch light inside
the core of the pyramid. It’s also a possibility, this is
what I’m proposing we consider you conservation types, that this is a thoughtful
architectural feature designed to provide appropriate
environmental storage conditions for the ages. Can we have a vote, can
we have a show of hands? So, there are other more recent
examples, let me show you. This is a classic
18th-century cedar hope chest, notice it’s raised off
the floor and the lid which is you know cut
from wood is not airtight, so we get airflow below it
and through that little gap in the lip of the cover. This effectively promotes
slow, steady ventilation and a stable environment,
it’s in the human comfort zone at the foot of the bed. This is a 19th-century
iron bookshelf that has a screen
grate at the bottom and it promotes air circulation
behind and around the books. This is one from the US
Department of Agriculture, freshly picked and shelled high
moisture corn can present a mold problem in storage. The alternative is
and this is from 1969, is to use unheated outside
air forced through a grate at the bottom of the storage
container, which then filters up through the top of the unit,
so airflow equals no mold, long-term grain storage. Elementary schools closed for
the summer lock all the doors and windows and they’re trying to prevent vandalism makes
sense except this can lead to a mold outbreak by the
time they come back to open up the building in the fall. So, a way to prevent a mold
bloom could be as simple as opening up the windows a
crack and allowing the building to breathe like a cave. But I think the most
telling example is that I am breathing
600,000 mold spores an hour and I’m not breaking
out in mold. Those conidia are
certainly landing in a warm, dark and humid environment
right. But I think in each of these
examples we can see the usefulness or the
necessity of allowing airflow to prevent mold growth right, what if we could actually
communicate with it, maybe not. But there are triggers for mold
events and that’s what we have to wrap our head around. When do we see it coming
right, when is it a possibility that we’re going to actually
have this thing happen because the moment
before it’s happened like the Biloxi public library
things are good and eventually that building was torn down. So, ways that we can deal with
it include conservation heating, dehumidification and
adaptive ventilation. Heating right, it’s a kind
of counterintuitive thing, in the summertime and Biloxi
would we actually turn up the heat, but warm air holds
more moisture than cold air so there’s an option
in some circumstances. But alternatively, the one
I like the most is desiccant or refrigerant dehumidification, which can effectively lower the
relative humidity inside great big buildings to 25%
and rapidly dries out everything, everything. Adaptive ventilation promotes
drying, so air passing over a wet surface
retains water. According to a 2004
study by Tim Padfield, moving air becomes completely
saturated when it passes over wet material
regardless of the air’s speed. So, airflow changes surface
tension causing evaporation that can prevent
fungal growth in caves, elementary schools
and in my lungs. Tyvek envelopes, sealed
glass exhibit cases, and locked doors intended to protect rare books prevent
airflow that can readily lead to an environmental imbalance. As noted by Monty Python and
now I’m quoting the best, the difference between
the living and the dead is so tenuous that it can
be easily mistaken. This is an essential
truth for mold. In situations where there’s
no ready access to electricity as with this Historical Society in rural Mississippi flooded
during Hurricane Katrina, the only option may be to
simply open the windows right, it makes sense. There are conditions where we
would find that very difficult, but in theory this will
change the environment inside and it might help. The problem in this particular
case was the curators were more concerned about vandals
than they were about mold and so they kept shutting
the windows, they would leave and they would shut the windows. Sterilization is a technical
option when we’re dealing with mold and so it
should be discussed, but we should not
use it casually. The caption on this cartoon
reads wanting his picnic with Gwen to be perfect Hal made
sure they would not be bothered by ants. Sterilization is expensive, it
can damage cultural property, but when flooding
involves sewage or other biological human risks
it may be necessary to consider. So, let me touch on it
briefly, due diligence right. The image of a commercial, this image of a commercial
ethylene oxide chamber was provided by Sterigenics. The effectiveness of ethylene
oxide sterilization is dependent on load density,
gas concentration, steam inject, and
the cycle time. Each of these factors have to
be correctly applied in order for the sterilization
process to be effective. Ethylene oxide is non-damaging
to paper as verified in the 1960’s by
Francois [inaudible]. This is a schematic of a
gamma radiation chamber that was also provided
by Sterigenics. You can see that it’s a
simple system actually, it’s a lead shell with a core
of nuclear material inside. And the stuff that you need
to sterilize passes by that. Gamma radiation sterilization
is a simpler process than ethylene oxide. The density of the product
determines the cycle time and the dosage required
in the radiator. The validation process
is shorter, so it may cost less
than ethylene oxide. However, gamma radiation
cleaves covalent bonds, which makes it absolutely
damaging to cultural property,
just a heads up. At the end of the
day killing mold by sterilization is a little like bringing pesticides
to a picnic however. Whether mold is dead or merely
inactive due to the lack of moisture it’s
the same effect, it doesn’t really matter. Inactive mold stops
consuming organic material and it desiccates. It could do no further harm if environmental conditions
prevent its recurrence and the desiccated mold can
be vacuumed up with a HEPA vac or it can just simply
be brushed away. And you should do this
outside with the wind coming over your shoulder so you
don’t actually get a face full of desiccated mold. So, thank you for that detour,
back on the point of the talk. I got back to the United States
after my trip to Georgia, a wonderful place
you should visit, it really was great,
I loved it actually. And I wrote a final
report defining the source of the mold problem and
providing the library with a protocol for
recovery of its rare books. In summary, you know,
we can summarize, in our easy armchairs
we can summarize. The way to deal with
this problem in Georgia in my estimation and
that of colleagues was that the free water must be
eliminated in the building and to do that we would
need to construct a gallery on three sides of the
building to provide a barrier between the groundwater
and the basement walls. We would need to repair the
culinary water pipes in the core of the building and realize
those are running in the walls, that may be really difficult. And we decided we really needed
to add downspouts to be able to move the rainwater away
from the base of the building. Everything we could do to eliminate water
into the building. The mold spores need to be
prevented from spreading into the rest of the building
while we’re trying to deal with these really,
really moldy rooms. So those rooms need to
be positively ventilated, that’s kind of a trick because
they’re down in a subbasement. But what we need to
do is exhaust the air from the room while we’re
drying it through HEPA filters and exhausted to the outside,
not through the building or get the hoses to go
through the building. So, it’s a little
complicated, it’s the kind of equipment we wouldn’t
have lying around. But we could bring equipment
in and I talked to people who are willing to do it. So next, the storage rooms
needed to be dehumidified and that would dehydrate
the mold and once it was dehydrated
it would be inactive and so the desiccated mold
could be cleaned simply enough by HEPA vacuuming it up, we
could just HEPA vac up the mold and on the books on the
walls on the shelves. Whether we did the books in
the same room or not was open to discussion, but we could
even start there just vacuuming them up. And then the walls
and the shelves needed to be washed with
soap and water. That was from the CDC
and I was fascinated because they’re not talking
about the use of chlorine at all, soap and water. Because in fact adding chlorine to the environment
might bother people who have already got
sensitivities going on because of all that mold and
of course all this has to be done wearing personal
protective equipment. And afterwards we need to
judiciously aerate the rooms and the building, find
a way to create airflow. But now a year later I am sorry to report mold is
still on the books. I’ve had a report from Georgia that they had some
success repairing that pipe out on the street and so maybe
that source of water is gone, but I think the water inside
the building is still a major problem. I was actually really, I’m
still really disappointed with this outcome and
maybe that’s the way I want to leave this talk this
morning or this afternoon, it’s still morning where I live. If we come from out of
country and offer up solutions that seem simple enough, seem reasonable it doesn’t mean
they’re actually affordable, it doesn’t mean that they’re
within the scope of the kind of work people can
actually take on or that they meet the
priorities of the people. And I don’t know what those are,
but I don’t think they’re books. And this is a historic
building that’s being preserved by just leaving it in spaces. They’ve protected it in
that it’s identified as such in this whole region of town, including this next slide
behind Marie, those are supports for a historic part of town,
18th and 19th century buildings that they’re preventing from
falling in by having put braces in place, but there’s no
money for repairing them. So, at this point in
the history of Tbilisi and of Georgia there are
bigger issues then dealing with some things like
cultural property. And so, we have to delay our
ambition to see a solution, it would make me happy, it would
make her happy, and I don’t know when it’s going to happen. I’d like to thank a
whole bunch of people, the people in Georgia, people
of the CDC, Kirk Lively, the bunch of folks at Belfor,
for people at Sterigenics. And Jeff David who actually
decorated this paper, that’s a splatter design on
paper that’s not actually mold, well you knew that right. So, I’ll leave it with
that, thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Fenella France: Do we
have questions for Randy? I’m actually going to
ask Randy for the benefit of our people offsite to repeat
and rephrase the question.>>Randy Silverman: Thank you.>>Fenella France:
Any questions?>>Randy Silverman: Oh, I can
rephrase it, so I’ll tell lies. Now is my chance,
I’m in Washington. Oh wait, that was not
nice sorry, sorry. Who’s got a question? Yes.>>Randy, just for clarification
the galleries were not built for this [inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman:
Correct, we were not able to build the galleries, at least to this point they
have not built.>>I imagine that would be
pretty expensive to undertake?>>Randy Silverman: Every — so, the is you know
would it be prohibitive because it’s expensive. It’s a big building,
but honestly the beauty of the idea was that
it was digging a hole and that manual labor or
a backhoe was within scope of the kinds of things
people could imagine doing. Bringing dehumidifiers was not
necessarily and so there’s sort of you know levels of buy-in,
but it didn’t seem strange to the local people,
to the architect and to the preservation
architect to be able to dig that gallery, and they’ve
done other similar projects. I think, however, at this
particular moment in the history of Georgia it’s not as possible as it might’ve been
10 years ago, so I think it’s actually the
time at which this is occurring. Does that help?>>Yes.>>Randy Silverman: Thank you. Please Andrew.>>So, is there some
impediment to moving the books like it seems like the
building is the problem, so you have moldy books,
the books could be moved to another location, but
undoubtedly there’s a reason that this, I mean were not. But it just seems
like [inaudible].>>Randy Silverman: So, Andrew’s
question for those of you at home I’ll try
and do a better job, I’m a reporter on the scene. Andrew suggests that
it would be reasonable to move the moldy books to a
different space and clean them up and keep the books there. It’s a good idea and let me say that we talked about
it at length. We actually identified a
different place in the building. The problem with the building
itself is a lack of controls, but the part that we
visited seemed to be dry, but again they were locked rooms
right, a series of locked rooms. But we talked about
actually putting a fume hood, a new fume hood in this place
and using that as a staging area and then keeping the books
in that part of the library. There was a hesitation
to jump ahead and not cure the mold problem
in the basement for fear that it would not be cured and
that the building would remain so unhealthy and that it
would affect the people. But I think it’s a
very real possibility and I think the director of the library really
wanted the books treated because they’re valuable books. So, it’s completely possible
to actually move the books to a dry space, rehab the space
so that it would be safe to work in to eliminate the mold,
and leave those rooms moldy. But there is a hesitation about whether they would then
just be forgotten as like moldy, you know, and maybe the
CDC would then be happy that they’re growing,
they’re still going nicely as a study so. Please.>>These are [inaudible], not indigenous culture heritage
they were actively collected and [inaudible]. Have they thought about
pragmatically going through what they have, if they
had any, this is what they have, cleaning up and selling some
to fund the work [inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman:
That’s interesting yeah. We didn’t really talk, I think
there’s a desire to keep them because of their value,
but I think the idea — I will pass it along,
the idea of cleaning them and selling them to be able to clean the building
is interesting. They’re not indigenous
books, they are, you know, they’re I think of interest
because they are not in Georgian or Russian, but actually
Latin books. And I think it’s a
very interesting idea because there’s a
real lack of money. The other cultural problem is that you know f A plus B does
not necessarily get us to see. In effect, it might
be that if we figured out that they were valuable
and started to sell them that the money might not come
back to the library anyway, that the priorities
are still greater. And we don’t know what they are,
they could be health issues, they could be human
issues that you and I would probably agree they
are the most important issues. So, I think it’s just a time
in the history of this project that it’s not particularly
going to work. Yeah.>>And a related note.>>Randy Silverman: Yes.>>You said they were
originally in Germany, do you know anything
[inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman: I don’t
I actually was told Germany as a generic, I tried
to press a little bit and I didn’t get any
information about that. I don’t know which library they
were dealing with or which group of people, you know,
were the Germans, but the Germans were very
generous in trying to deal with the problem but there
was a lot of difficulty. And so, there were
people getting involved. What’s been wonderful is I have
not met anybody who’s aware of this problem who
wasn’t willing to you know, give of themselves to try
and help make it better and.>>I was just wondering
if [inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman:
So, the question is where were those original books, where were they housed
in Germany. I don’t know that, I
don’t know that sorry.>>Fenella France: One
question from offsite. Are there preservation
service programs in Georgia?>>Randy Silverman: The question from offsite is are there
preservation service programs in Georgia. The program is basically Menana, this Georgian Blue Shield
is a very active group and they’ve had a series of
disaster training workshops that I’m aware of and they
are trying to coordinate, but I don’t know that
there’s very much funding to support these things. I’m very proud of the
work that they’ve done. And the kinds of
cultural property you know when I show you these European
books it pales compared to the Georgia books
I was shown, I was shown some
astounding stuff, amazing things, really gorgeous. There’s great cultural
property there to be cared for and people are concerned. I saw another hand, where?>>This just on one of
the slides [inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman:
A series of stamps. [ Inaudible Comment ] Stadsbibliotek was identified as maybe what the stamp
said inside the book. I’ve actually not
looked closely, but I think that’s true. So, you know, the Germans tried
to help make the problem better, they really did and I think
they would’ve been happy to take the books back at one
point, but too much red tape. Yasmine.>>You went into the space also, how do the library
staff access the space, do they use the books,
what is [inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman:
So, the question from Yasmine is what does
the library staff do relative to going in and out
of that space and how are they using
the books currently. I was shocked to
see some people, I mean I made it a big part of
my report I didn’t note this. But anyone going in there, I mean it’s the most severe
mold outbreak I’ve seen and anyone going in there needs to have personal
protection equipment. But the person with the
key for instance thought that was hooey she didn’t care, it was like a ridiculous
you know Western attitude, what was I bringing to the
problem, what was I thinking. I was you know obviously and
she did wander in and out of it, I mean and others. So, I know there are people
who react differently to mold and she was hardy,
there’s no question. There are people in the
library, so the answer to the book question,
they’re not using the books and there’s a little effort
to vacuum off the mold and so we went through that
protocol, but it’s very slow. These are 80,000 books,
so it’s a slow process and they were trying to
vacuum every single page. I suggested we focus just on the exterior mold
and let it be enough. It’s a question you
know what’s enough. But the people in the library
is a really interesting question because one person who was
doing digital scanning got sick and so he went to the doctor and the doctor said you
have a respiratory thing, take this whatever
this was, and don’t do that work for three weeks. And so, he came back to work,
but kind of was not working and I said well do I mind
if I use you as an example to plead the case that there
are health problems here and he said oh that’ll be fine. And then he thought
about it overnight and he said tomorrow said no
way, don’t do that because and he left it at that. But others explained to me
that if you put your job in jeopardy you might
never get another job and that there were young
people caring for their parents and their parents at
home were in their 40’s and they were essentially
retired out because there
were limited jobs. So, people are not willing to
openly say we have a problem because there’s consequences so.>>Fenella France: We have
a couple more questions from offsite, they’re
quite long ones. Do you want to speak?>>Fenella France: Let me just.>>Randy Silverman:
Yeah, just say it.>>Fenella France:
So, one question is, would there be a problem
from a health standpoint for future access of the collection post-mold
cleaning due to the scale of the problems, so it’s
a wee bit supposition.>>Randy Silverman: Yes, good
for you, that’s a great question and it enters in an area that we
don’t really know definitively how to define. For cost reasons
it’s fair to assume that just removing the mold on
the books is probably the extent of the treatment that
would be possible. One of the hesitations
to doing that and then putting the books
back in the storage place in the building is it’s maybe
not environmentally dry enough for us to get away with
just having vacuumed it off. But we could monitor them and
we could monitor the Rh in rooms that they chose to
house them in. And if things were improved
or kept to a minimum, basically the number we think of
is below 65% relative humidity, we’re probably going
to be all right. But the question you know
if you’re probing me to say if a person was really sensitive
to molds and the people who are for instance have just had
children, they’ve given birth, they have immune deficiency
problems, they’ve had surgery, they have AIDS, that category of
person tends to get a reaction to mold more easily than say me. And that being the case, it
would be difficult to say that for everyone just having
vacuumed off the mold will be enough. I think so, however, I feel
pretty good about that saying that would be a solution in
most cases, but I’d really like to see ventilation, outdoor
air coming into a building that had this kind of problem. I was involved, if I could
just say, I was involved in a different disaster in 1997
at Colorado State University and because of that
very thing every book that was damaged, it
was 450,000 books. Got a little slip inside it that
said this is a copy of a book that was in that flood and
so it’s like a heads up. This space because it was an
entire floor of the building, this space in theory is maybe
different and maybe you should. I suggested to the university it
would be wise to just post that.>>Fenella France:
One more [inaudible].>>Randy Silverman: Sure.>>Fenella France: What
was the interest or buy-in for the community to
support the stabilization and conservation of
the books on site?>>Randy Silverman: I don’t
think the community generally knows about this
book collection, so I don’t know what the
status of that information is. But when I told people of
course everybody is sympathetic to the idea that we
should fix this problem. But I don’t think it was widely
known that there are books and certainly not
in that condition. And I would think for instance
when the Center for Disease and Health from Georgia
got involved that they would’ve been kind of
shocked by things and the fact that they weren’t makes me think
there’s a different standard than I’m aware of at play. One and two good. Hi, hi Nora.>>Hi, could you tell us
how you got CDC involved and the [inaudible]?>>Randy Silverman: It’s
a wonderful question, so Nora [inaudible] asked when did I get the CDC
involved, how smart am I. The question actually is it’s
a really interesting answer. I left Georgia on a plane
like some, you know, five in the morning
kind of flight out of you know small countries
and I was so frustrated, I knew we didn’t quite get
there and I was desperate. And so, I was talking
to my seatmate, a woman sat down one seat
over and we talked all the way to Germany who was from the CDC. You know there is
goodness and mercy in the world, but it’s hiding. But she sat down
and she connected, I told her how desperate
the situation was and she connected me with people
in Atlanta who connected me with specialists in West
Virginia who deal with mold. And so, it was by
virtue of serendipity, a great research tool. Andrew.>>Yeah, so I’m thinking
now about the ventilation and the shafts to
the king’s tomb and.>>Randy Silverman:
There you go.>>And clearly that
was planned out ahead of time you know for
whatever reasons. Are there anyone that you know of [inaudible] planning
these kinds of things into future building
designs for libraries, for cultural heritage
divisions to say let’s put in an architectural gallery, let’s put in an [inaudible]
system that we can hook up to any interior space
in the building as we need to do this kind of thing?>>Randy Silverman: So. Andrew is asking for
those of you at home, you know the king’s
ventilation shafts, the pyramidal ventilation
shafts is such an ideal use of existing technology that
it leaves me stunned frankly. And you’re observing
that there’s a real merit in capturing ideas like
that and applying them in the present day is
absolutely a theme I have going in the back of my head. What do we know that
we’ve forgotten right, what as a culture have we like
eliminated for whatever reason and simply overlooked
at this point. Because when I found
those shafts just looking through literature I was
shocked, it was like look at what they thought
of back then. And Andrew asked are thinking about applying those
in modern buildings. I don’t know enough about
architecture, this is a — I’m out of my depth,
but there are people, especially planning
conservation environments who know an awful
lot about this. But what you’re leading
to is a very key point and then I probably
have to wrap up. But the idea that if
we build buildings that are hermetically sealed because we can do HVAC
control that’s great as long as it’s working and the day that it’s not working we don’t
have a second option right. It’s a completely sealed system
on purpose, which puts us at a huge disadvantage and or
when there’s something wrong in the building, it’s just
a little out of whack. Getting to a place that we
could ventilate the book storage in Georgia was going to be
difficult, we would have to ventilate upstairs and out. You’d have to have a mile of the
tubing and or cut a hole right through the wall, which I
doubt they were interested in doing below-grade. So, when we build modern
buildings are we thinking this way. I think there’s a group
of people who are aware of this stuff, but we should be
harvesting and I’ll leave this at the last note, we should
be harvesting the bright ideas in every way that we can and
some of them are ancient. And to ignore these old ideas because they’re outdated is
not really paying attention. When we get into a fix and
we’re desperate for an answer, when we start clutching
at straws and we come across something like this we
should be talking to each other, we should be harvesting
these ideas because it’s not out of its own time now, it’s
still time for us to come up with alternatives
and variations on the way we’re
approaching things.>>Can I ask a final question?>>Randy Silverman: Yes, I
would love one more question.>>Just to return to
the university library. Obviously, they’re operating
on a different reality, but despite that were there
any lessons learned for you that you could share with us? If you had to do it again, would
you do anything differently and [inaudible] forward
to the next time or are you [inaudible]? You know there are going to be
limitations on their reality.>>Randy Silverman: Mary Oi
[phonetic] just asked the million-dollar question,
what did I learn. I approached the problem with a
sense of being able to solve it. I was so convinced the answer
was intellectually within grasp and I was so knocked off center
by my inability to do that. And the thing I would
like to share with you is we can
know how to fix it and we can still not
be able to fix it. It’s a terrible position to
be in, it’s really terrible and you know what it’s like
a combination of things. But in answer to your question,
I failed pure and simple. I don’t know that I could
have won, I don’t know how. I begged the people on
the ground you know six and eight months later to tell
me how I could’ve done better and they said you did fine,
you know, what are they going to say, they’re going
to insult me and tell me what an
idiot I am, I doubt it. But I have to say I
think they were sincere and I think all we
can do is try, I think the best
we can do is try. And the idea of harvesting
old ideas that still are valid or looking more carefully
at things that we have rejected
along the way so that I can bring
a cheap answer. The answer was cheap, if I
could have just found a way to do it for free. I was conning people into, you
know, goading people into coming for nothing if they would just
show up on site and ventilate that room appropriately so
it wasn’t a health risk, I had a man committed to doing
several trips if he had to, to work for nothing
to make this better, and there was not
money to do that. So unfortunately, I’m actually
having to swallow the raw pill that it’s not possible in
every case to fix these things and we all live with failures
in little ways all of the time, it’s humbling, it’s frustrating,
and we can do better. I would hate to say, to leave
this on a negative note, but optimism is not necessarily
going to be able to fix it. So, thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>This has been a
presentation of the Library of Congress, visit
us at LOC.gov.

Dereck Turner

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