Adhesives used in paper conservation: chemical stability and fungal bioreceptivity

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In paper conservation practice, adhesives are used for several purposes, such as mending tears and gaps, or paper consolidation. The criteria to choose one or another adhesive should be based on the knowledge of the properties and stability of those adhesives. However, the several different adhesives available on the market still lack enough information to help the process of a rational decision-making. In the present work, five adhesives currently used in the paper conservation field (starch paste, unsupported ArchibondTM, carboxymethylcellulose, hydroxypropylcellulose and methylcellulose) were analyzed for their chemical stability and fungal bioreceptivity (the ability of a material to be colonized by fungi). Bioreceptivity of products used in conservation and restoration is a still poorly explored subject, despite its great relevance for the preservation of objects. The chemical and physical properties of the adhesives, before and after moist heat artificial ageing, were analyzed by thermogravimetry, capillary viscometry, measurement of water absorption capacity, colourimetry, and pH measurement. Fungal bioreceptivity of the adhesives was tested on two different substrates (paper and glass) against three fungal species: Aspergillus niger, Aureobasidium pullulans and Penicillium pinophilum. Along 56 days of incubation, the colonization area on the adhesives was measured through digital photo analysis. Starch paste was the most bioreceptive adhesive, but on other hand was also the most stable adhesive to artificial ageing, regarding colour alteration, degree of polymerization and pH. Carboxymethylcellulose and ArchibondTM showed chemical deterioration with ageing. Nevertheless, these two adhesives presented only scarce bioreceptivity to the tested fungi. Methylcellulose and hydroxypropylcellulose showed the best relationship between higher chemical stability with artificial ageing and lower fungal bioreceptivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Adhesive
  • Artificial ageing
  • Bioreceptivity
  • Fungi
  • Paper conservation


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