Appendix D: Tips to help determine the presence of toxics: What to look for

Appendix D
Tips to help determine the presence of toxins

  • All ethnographic artifacts collected and/or prepared before the mid-1950s should be considered potentially dangerous to those handling them.

  • Study the documentation for reference to use of toxins.  Note that treatments were rarely recorded as they were considered part of general collections management practices.

Inspect artifacts carefully for:

  • Warning labels or tags on the object or in/on its storage container.

  • Powdery or crystalline deposits or bloom stains, tidelines.

  • Inspect and/or test pre-1950s artifacts every several years as toxins may
    migrate from their interiors.

  • If you discover traces of toxins: tag the contaminated objects indicating the contamination, isolate them (wrap them and/or move them)  and thoroughly document their condition.