Today’s blog post concludes remote intern Mhairi Boyle’s four-part series on water quality. Mhairi discusses the conclusions she reached during her internship and provides us with her recommendations for regular water testing at the CRC.
As the weeks drew to a close, I began to culminate all of my research into one final report. Mulling over everything, I was able to generate a few conclusions, and most importantly, some recommendations for the CRC.
- My first conclusion is that the tap water in Edinburgh is safe to use in paper conservation treatments. The on-site analysis demonstrated that the metal content is far below the maximum amount recommended by Scottish Water. This is, of course, subject to regular testing and monitoring.
- My second conclusion is that there is a lot more research to be undertaken in this area. Looking towards a more sustainable profession, the use of tap water in paper conservation should be encouraged, subject to quality. Further research should be undertaken into the metal and chlorine content of tap water.
As a culmination of all my research, I devised a Water Testing Programme for the CRC. I wanted to keep it simple, understandable, and easy to grab at a moment’s notice. The gist of the program is as follows:
- Monthly pH Testing. The CRC uses water to make solutions, adhesives, and to humidify objects. The pH of the water used should be tested monthly with a digital pH meter, and be adjusted if it is too acidic. It should also be tested before the washing of any objects.
- Monthly Chlorine Monitoring. A more sensitive digital chlorine reader has been recommended for the CRC. Monthly chlorine monitoring will allow the CRC to monitor the chlorine content and observe any fluctuations.
- Bi-Annual Water Analysis by an External Company. The results can be compared to Scottish Water quality reports for any discrepancies. Bi-annual water analysis accounts for any major seasonal changes in the water.
- Contingency Planning. I have recommended the use of a logbook to ensure the Programme is carried out, and to allow for the monitoring of results. If the results of the tests are deemed unacceptable, I have recommended the interim use of jugs of purified water until the results are fully investigated. For example, if the iron content jumps up significantly, it could be an indication of rusted pipework at the University.
And that’s a wrap! I’d like to thank my supervisor, Emily Hick, and all of the CRC & Museums staff for giving me this wonderful opportunity.