RIT Developing Strategies to Mitigate Pollution-Induced Deterioration of Inkjet Prints

Institute of Museum and Library Services awards $444,943 grant to Image Permanence Institute

These images illustrate the harmful effects of pollutants on inkjet materials. This image shows bleed caused by nitrogen dioxide.

The Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology has received a grant for $444,943 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for a major research and development project dealing with the mitigation of pollution-induced deterioration of inkjet-printed documents and photographs in cultural heritage institutions.

According to a 2008 Image Permanence Institute survey, approximately 80 percent of cultural heritage institutions have inkjet prints in their collections and are concerned about the increasing influx of these materials. The survey also showed that noticeable deterioration of these objects has already occurred, including fading, yellowing, color bleed and surface cracking and delamination. In total, 71 percent of institutions have identified deterioration of portions of their digital print collections.

The institute’s previous digital print preservation research, including the DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal, funded by The Institute of Museum of Library Services and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, established a clear connection between ozone and nitrogen dioxide and the types of deterioration noted above. Identifying and understanding effective methods to mitigate such damage will be critical to the survival of these objects.

Deterioration due to pollutants occurs through chemical reactions. It may be possible to slow these reactions by lowering the storage temperature or by using enclosures to prevent contact between the pollutants and the collection objects. The specific experiments in this project will quantify the overall effectiveness of low temperature in slowing attack by atmospheric ozone and nitrogen dioxide, as well as characterize the degree of protection afforded by various common enclosures (sleeves, boxes, etc.) made of paper or plastic.

The Image Permanence Institute will use its experience, equipment and expertise with temperature, pollutant and enclosure studies to conduct these experiments and distill the results into practical recommendations. The outcome of this project will be a full report describing the results, including improved recommendations to institutions regarding the best practices for managing the preservation of their inkjet printed collection assets.


About Image Permanence Institute

The Image Permanence Institute, part of RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, is a university-based, nonprofit research laboratory devoted to scientific investigations into the preservation of visual and other forms of recorded information. It’s the world’s largest independent laboratory with this specific scope. To learn more about IPI go to www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org.

About The Institute Of Museum And Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 15,000 museums. Its mission is to grow and sustain a “Nation of Learners” because life-long learning is essential to a democratic society and individual success. Through its grant making, convenings, research and publications, the Institute empowers museums and libraries nationwide to provide leadership and services to enhance learning in families and communities, sustain cultural heritage, build 21st century skills and increase civic participation. To learn more about the Institute, go to www.imls.gov.

This image illustrates cracking of the image layer which caused portions of the ink receiver layer to delaminate.
This image shows significant colorant fade.
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