ICOM and ICOMOS unite in call to allow the use of nitrogen for the protection of cultural heritage

Museums, memory institutions and heritage professionals in the European Union get a last chance to overturn an EU regulation banning the use of in-situ generated nitrogen.

As professional organizations devoted to the protection of cultural heritage, ICOM and ICOMOS encourage all stakeholders of cultural heritage in a joint call to raise their voice and to explain why in their opinion the EU regulation prohibiting the use of in-situ generated nitrogen in anoxic treatment is endangering the protection of cultural heritage.

In-situ generated nitrogen is commonly used for the preservation of invaluable collections and cultural objects. In comparison to other much more dangerous and toxic methods, the use of Nitrogen has many advantages: The method can be used for the treatment of almost all cultural objects and has the most favourable environmental and health profile (nitrogen/N2 makes up 78 per cent of the air we breathe!). Nitrogen can be applied to objects made from materials that cannot be committed to other treatments such as freezing or heat treatments and in particular for objects made of organic or combined materials. There is no viable alternative to anoxic treatment which would be compatible with preservation requirements.

Following the application from Austria for a BPR Article 55(3) derogation, the Commission will decide whether to grant or not a derogation. In doing so it needs to analyze the justification provided by Austria as well as other information available or provided by interested parties, especially with regard to available alternatives.

To this end the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has launched a public consultation, inviting interested parties to provide information on potential alternatives available for the protection of cultural heritage. The information collected through the public consultation will be taken into account when deciding whether to grant or not a derogation.

This may be the last chance offered to the conservation community for quite a while. Deadline for submitting your statement is January 18th, 2020!

ICOM and ICOMOS’ drafted statement, which is available in 

Simply fill in your institution’s letterhead, the date and your name and upload the letter as a pdf.





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