Microfilm and microfiche until the mid-1990s used a cellulose acetate base, which is vulnerable to deterioration.
“Unfortunately, acetate-based microfilm will break down rapidly when exposed to fluctuating temperature, humidity, or pollutants. Once this exposure occurs, the film’s base undergoes chemical degradation, generating by-products including acetic acid, which produces a noticeable aroma of vinegar – hence the term ‘vinegar syndrome.’”*
- Check your collections regularly; early detection is critical!
- If you smell vinegar, deterioration has already started.
- Use test strips to evaluate current conditions.
- Once vinegar syndrome starts, it cannot be reversed.
If you find that your collections are at risk or already affected, ProQuest can assist you in transferring and replacing damaged material to polyester film – or we can digitize it – at a reasonable cost.
*For more information on the details of vinegar syndrome, download this FAQ from Fujifilm.