Every employer is responsible for protecting staff and all collection users from the hazards and risks associated with pest management activities. These pages identify hazards, mitigation strategies, and provide some examples of policy and procedure documents that can be adapted for your institutional needs.

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Safety for Humans

Prevention involves a wide array of activities that fall under the umbrella of an IPM program, such as: sanitation, exclusion, use of environmental controls, examination, and quarantine. For each of these, human safety parameters are dictated by the equipment used and how each task is performed. Some of these tasks, such as sanitation and building repair to effect exclusion, may involve the work of other museum professionals. A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) specific to the task required can help pinpoint potential hazards and will help users find solutions.

 

  • Sanitation, environmental control, and facilities management safety considerations are generally covered through JHA analyses that target specific activities. Note that each JHA generally includes hazard training.
  • Examination and quarantine activities can pose human hazards such as exposure to potential allergens such as insect frass, glues, and pheromones used on sticky traps, or hazards associated with use of heat sealers and plastic sheeting.
  • Exposure to previously applied pesticides and/or pest deterrents may pose human hazards. While this is covered in the Solutions section, chemicals applied to collection items, cabinets, drawers, and other areas can include a wide variety of pesticides such as dichlorvos, DDT, heavy metals, and others. For more information on historic pesticide applications and associated hazards, see the AIC Wiki.
  • Chemicals are sometimes recommended by facilities professionals and pest management professionals for use as deterrents or for recurrent treatments. These include pesticide powders that are applied to cracks and crevices, perimeter sprays, and other products. Consult with a licensed certified pest manager for any questions related to human health and safety when using any chemical products to deter or eradicate pests. Always consult the product label and SDS sheet when evaluating use of these products. Note that if chemicals are used, compliance with an institutional Hazard Communication Plan is recommended.
Safety for Collections

Preventive strategies are not without risk to collection items, for example:

 

  • Collection handling during examination can cause physical damage through improper technique or accidents, especially when looking closely at interstices, seams, or areas with limited physical access.
  • Hazards presented by the application of chemical deterrents or precautionary products will depend upon an evaluation of potential interactions between the collection item(s) and the chemical composition of the applied material. Insecticidal residuals or deterrents must be carefully evaluated to make sure that the product will not react with the collection items in question. For example, the use of Dichlorvos impregnated strips or blocks was common in the latter part of the 20th c. and remnants of these treatments are often found in collection cabinets and drawers. Dichlorvos is known to affect some pigments, dyes, and proteins; the carriers for these products often deteriorate and emit byproduct volatile organic compounds. 
  • Preventive chemicals or precautionary products may produce secondary effects on collection items. These include perimeter sprays, crack and crevice chemicals, and other products may that result in exposure to abrasive particulates or provide food for the next generation of pests. For example, permethrins degrade to create biologically digestible materials that encourage micro-organism growth.

Quarantine or isolation of specific kinds of objects may incur damage due to the build-up of volatile compounds inside an enclosed bubble or bag and this increased concentration may cause changes to collection items. 

  • Monitoring activities such as use of blunder traps/insect monitors in close proximity to collection items can sometimes cause damage; they should be placed in positions where they cannot come in contact with nearby collection items, as they might stick to the adhesive surface intractably. 

 

Regulatory Information

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Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs) for Prevention Tasks

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