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Research for a substitute gas to methyl bromide for the disinsectization of heritage assets in historic monuments

Research for a substitute gas to methyl bromide for the disinsectization of heritage assets in historic monuments

Duration: 2008–2011

CICRP programme director: Katia Baslé

Partnerships(s): Institute of Archaeomaterials Research, UMR CNRS 5060, IRAMAT-CRPAA; University of Bordeaux 3; Materia Viva Laboratory, Toulouse; TRACES Laboratory – UMR 5608 CNRS, University of Toulouse – Le Mirail; Laboratory for Stored Products – LNDS-QUALIS, Bordeaux

Problems of infestation and re-infestation are recurrent in all heritage sectors (museums, historic monuments, archives, libraries) and problematic particularly in historic monuments: diversity of works present, heterogeneity of materials and especially mass treatments, objects that often cannot be transported and/or cannot be dismantled (retables, pulpits, paneling and mural decorations etc.), large-format objects, topography of the grounds, etc.

The use of mass treatments, in situ and under short time frames, has led to the testing of four gases: dimethyl disulfide or DMDS: CH3S-CH3S; hydrogen phosphide or phosphine: PH3; sulfuryl fluoride: SO2F2; and ethanedinitrile: C2N2, as well as the potential physico-chemical alterations on heritage property.

The results were published in 2011: hydrogen phosphide and ethanedinitrile are to be prohibited as they provoke, respectively, the formation of phosphides and nitrates, which particularly corrode copper. DMDS seems satisfactory but presents a major inconvenience due to the prolonged lingering of its strong alliaceous odour. Sulfuryl fluoride yields the best results so long as a filter is used to prevent impurities from getting deposited on the works and altering them.


  • Baslé, K., Daniel, F., Mounier, A., Queixalos, I. and Robbiola, L., ‘The disinfestation of historical monuments: Gas substitutes for methyl bromide‘ (forthcoming), in: Proceedings of the CAF (Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation), Antalya, Turkey, 15–19 October 2012.
  • Baslé K., Daniel F., Mounier A., Queixalos I., Robbiola L., Ducom P., Ciesla Y. and Fritsch J., ‘Gas substitutes for methyl bromide in cultural heritage: disinfestation of historical monuments’, in: Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research, ser. 2 – vol. 43(2).