Appendix A
Safety Guidelines for Handling Museum Collections

  • If you do not have information on any treatments applied to your artifacts, assume that hazardous pesticides are present. Wear nitrile gloves (not cotton or latex) while handling your artifacts.

  • When removing gloves, do so such that your hands do not touch the exterior surface of the gloves.

  • Always discard gloves and wash hands with soap and water after handling objects, and especially before eating or smoking.

  • Wear a lab coat or other protective clothing to keep dust off clothing. Remove the lab coat when out of the areas or no longer handling contaminated material.

  • Assess your work area. If there is visible surface dust, you should also wear shoe and hair coverings.

  • Keep lab coats clean so as to avoid transferring dust and dirt.

  • If possible, work with your material in a well-ventilated area. For example, examine objects in an area outside of the storage location, (i.e. conservation lab with proper ventilation or fume hoods).

  • Make sure you have medical certification to wear a mask or respirator and that you have an up to date fit test for your device. Assess your working situation, and choose an appropriate type of respirator and cartridges. (See Appendix B regarding DPR's guidelines for respiratory use)

  • Eating or drinking in the store room/ around artifacts should be prohibited.

  • Ensure that work surfaces are well cleaned after they have been in contact with artifacts. Sponge-clean or wet-mop floors with soap and water.

  • If there is any chance dust has gotten onto your clothing, remove your clothes as soon as you get home, bag and launder separately from other clothing.

  • If you have any concerns about exposure, consult a board certified occupational medical doctor or toxicologist.

  • If you have questions, email Monona Rossol at

Prepared on Oct. 6, 2000 by:
Monona Rossol (Conservation Scientist, Arts, Crafts, and Theater Safety)
Jane Sirois (Conservation Scientist, Canadian Conservation Institute)