Repository logo

Ozone Test Strips for PVC Plastics?


Conference Object

Change log


Coughlin, Mary 


Polyvinyl chloride or PVC has been one of the most commonly used thermoplastic polymers in the world since World War II and is found in nearly all museum collections, whether as accessioned items or materials used in storage or exhibition. Most PVC contains a high level of chlorine as part of its manufacture, and dehydrochlorination, a reaction in which hydrogen chloride is removed, is the primary degradation pathway. This is an autocatalytic reaction so allowing the hydrogen chloride to remain in the surrounding environment accelerates the rate of degradation. In a museum context, knowing if PVC is emitting an oxidant such as hydrogen chloride, which can form hydrochloric acid with atmospheric water, could provide insight into how collections are aging and influence storage and display decisions. Since the majority of museums are small, understaffed, and underfunded institutions, access to scientific analysis is limited. The application of an inexpensive and easy-to-use monitor that identifies degrading PVC would enable more museums to identify potentially harmful PVC plastics in their collections. Ozone Test strips, a product marketed for the detection of ozone, can get a false positive when exposed to oxidants such as chlorine. This small study found that these noninvasive commercially available test strips may be able to be repurposed to detect some degrading PVC and that detection was possible even before signs of deterioration, such as weeping or discolouration, were obvious.



Plastics in Peril, Object conservation

Journal Title

Conference Name

Plastics in Peril: Focus on conservation of polymeric materials in cultural heritage

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Publisher DOI

Publisher URL