The issue with John Haley's analysis (which is probably correct most of
the time), we don't know where the mold has come from. I actually turn
down moldy tapes from Mexico and South, and have had a long discussion
with a Mexican archivist at an institution who had me take a selfie of
me wearing the NIOSH mask so she could (a) either laugh at me or (b)
understand better the exact type of mask I was using.
I tend not to wear gloves as they turn me into a klutz. I do have a
separate dehydrator in the garage for the moldy tapes as the preferred
order of baking is to do it before cleaning because cleaning involves
unspooling the tapes and you all know my feeling (after a rather big
disaster that we saved by sheer luck) about unspooling any typically
sticky-shed tapes before baking: DO NOT DO IT.
I was told not to say anything publicly about tape manufacturing
possibly killing people, but had heard the story that Tom related as
well. I suspect it is true, but a sample of one is anecdotal and I don't
know anyone who will volunteer to expose themselves to some of the
solvents used in making tapes.
If I recall correctly, the photo and old message that I posted about
yesterday was about a tape which originated in Trinidad, but was already
I did check with environment Canada about the risks of possibly bringing
in moldy tapes, and they were not concerned, but I was both on the
grounds of possibly introducing new species (invasive species such as
Asian Carp and Zebra Mussels are an issue here and in the USA) to the
environment as well as the potential health hazard.
The only transfers I ever did for CBC were a group of moldy tapes that
had been sitting in Ziplock bags for years as no one on staff was
allowed to touch them.
I did have a friend who has since passed who claimed he was sickened by
mold in the workplace. This is a story I haven't followed for a while,
and this is an old article.
Be careful. Don't take chances.
On 2015-05-21 7:40 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Going back to Richard's point, please read the Spec Bros. posting that
> Richard linked. Mold is one thing, but the crystalline "chunks" are
> something else. What I dealt with was not mold. What Marie described was
> mold. Two different things, maybe requiring different cleaning methods.
> Regarding John's comments, I have no doubt that the plaintiff bar and
> its media lapdogs have greatly exaggerated the mortal dangers of common
> molds, but I still think it's a bad idea to go about cleaning moldy
> tapes without wearing a face mask of some sort and gloves. Marie works
> in an institution, so she takes extra measures to protect her colleagues
> and also to avoid contaminating her archive building with mold. I would
> say that, while it might not kill you, it's probably not a good idea to
> ingest concentrated piles of mold that have been feeding on the
> chemistry of magnetic tape and its packaging. I would also say, while I
> don't know of anyone who has gottten sick or died from it, you probably
> shouldn't bake tapes in an enclosed area without much airflow. I haven't
> seen any thorough chemical analysis of what the fumes of baking contain.
> Tape manufacturing was a very toxic industry. Keep in mind two things:
> 1) the former Quantegy plant in Alabama was a Superfund cleanup site;
> and 2) Mike Spitz's business partner told me that he suspected Mike
> contracted brain cancer from years of exposure to tape-manufacturing
> chemicals and equipment. These are both anecdotal points, but enough to
> convince me to be serious about air quality when working with magnetic
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.