The quote you posted is very misleading.  I'm not surprised, however, as I
attended a conference about 10 years ago where a representative from one of
the major tape manufacturers (not to be named) informed the audience that
tape with mold could not be recovered.   Of course, after Hurricane Katrina,
government-paid "experts" were telling people in the affected area that no
wet tape could ever be recovered either.  As we have been doing recovery of
wet magnetic tape for decades, I found this "official" information somewhat
less than "expert" and (politely) offered the responsible government agency
some more accurate information. They declined to accept anything but the
"official" line and continued to tell the Hurricane victims that their wet
tapes were unrecoverable.  For some reason, there are people out there who
feel that if they don't do it, no one can.

We do mold (mould) remediation all the time and have been doing it for many
years.  We currently have around 100 tapes in house that are being treated
for mold.  These range from 2 audio" to 8mm video.  Of course, we do
disaster recovery so we are more likely to see moldy tapes than most.  I'll
have to admit that no one is very thrilled about processing moldy tapes (it
is time consuming to do properly) but to claim that "there isn't a
professional audio restorer in the World that will handle mouldy tapes"
simply means that the author didn't do his homework.  All you have to do is
Google "moldy tapes" and you will find quite a lot of information.  Of
course, if you Google "mouldy tapes" it seems that most of the hits agree
with or are derived from the same source as the author you quoted. (Ah- we
Americans and our strange spelling conventions).

In any case, some of the information quoted is true (somewhat).  There are a
lot of moldy tapes out there.  Mold can spread from one tape to those
surrounding it, unless isolated.  It can also be spread by playing tapes on
contaminated machines.  It won't, however, usually destroy heads unless you
leave the heads contaminated with mold for an extended period of time and
the humidity is high enough for the mold to remain active.  (Frankly, if it
destroys someone's audio heads, they really should consider cleaning them
more than once or twice a year- sorry for the sarcasm but it takes a long
time for the acids produced by blooming mold to eat audio heads).

As for it becoming more prevalent, in America, at least, I can't agree.  We
do get moldy tapes, both from disasters and from bad storage- but- prior to
the early 80's, tape was often stored in really bad conditions and we saw
lots more mold in the 80's and early 90's.  Recently, we have seen much
better storage conditions and, subsequently, less mold from poor storage.
Moldy tapes certainly do not currently represent 10% of the old audio and
video tapes we process- hydrolyzed tapes (SSS) yes, moldy tapes no.   

Peter Brothers
[log in to unmask]

Tape restoration and disaster recovery since 1983

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Prentice, Will
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 9:32 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Mould &tape

The following quote is taken from the website of an audio transfer
business in the southwest of Scotland (

"[Mould on tapes is] caused by storing tapes in damp or humid places
during warm moist Summers and its destroying tapes as never before. Its
as infectious to other tapes as measles is to children and if it gets
onto the recording heads of tape players it destroys them too, as well
as infecting every other tape played on that machine. So its not
surprising that there isn't a professional audio restorer in the World
that will handle mouldy tapes. From a rare phenomena seven years ago its
now affecting almost ten per cent of all the old audio and video tapes
seen by specialist audio restorers."

Does this reflect anyone else's experience?


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