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X-ray sterilization of insects and microorganisms for cultural heritage applications

TitleX-ray sterilization of insects and microorganisms for cultural heritage applications
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBorgognoni, F., Vadrucci M., Bazzano G., Ferrari P., Massa Silvia, Moretti R., Calvitti Maurizio, Ronsivalle C., Moriani A., and Picardi L.
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
KeywordsAcceleration, Agrobacterium rhizogenes, Bacteria, Biological materials, cell growth, Cellulose degradation, Characterization, Cultural heritage application, Cultural heritages, Growth kinetics, Historic preservation, Innovative technology, Insects, Ionizing radiation, irradiation, Linac, Linear accelerators, Medical applications, Microorganisms, Nuclear Power, Post-irradiation incubation, Radiation, Radiation shielding, Small and medium enterprise, Sterilization, Sterilization (cleaning), X ray radiography

The APAM (Development of Particle Accelerators and Medical Applications) Laboratory of the ENEA Frascati Research Center is engaged in the preservation of cultural heritage as part of the COBRA (Sviluppo e diffusione di metodi, tecnologie e strumenti avanzati per la COnservazione dei Beni culturali, basati sull'applicazione di Radiazioni e di tecnologie Abilitanti) project addressed to the transfer of innovative technologies and methodologies from research to small and medium enterprises involved in the restorative measures. This work aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of ionizing radiation on the disinfection of biodegraded art objects. The conventional methods for the disinfestation of works of art, using chemicals toxic to humans and environment, might cause some damage to the treated material even on micrometric scale (i. e. either cellulose degradation). Ionizing radiations interact with the infesting biological material causing an irreversible DNA degradation. For this reason, they are certainly suitable for removal treatments of both macro organisms and bacterial colonies. A 4.8 MeV electron linear accelerator, normally dedicated to the characterization of dose detectors and radiographies, has been employed to produce Bremsstrahlung X-rays through a lead converter. The spectral fluence of the radiation source has been calculated using the Monte Carlo MCNPX code. The dosimetric characterization of the radiation field has been made using radiochromic films sensitive in the dose range of our interest (from 50 to 500 Gy) calibrated with a Markus ionization chamber. The irradiation of the artifact prototypes are made within a lead shielded room at a variable distance from the X-rays source. Samples subjected to irradiation consist of a soil bacterium, Agrobacterium rhizogenes, and an insect, Stegobium paniceum, that are found as wall paintings invasive coloniser and as a pest of books, wood works and paintings, respectively. Tests of irradiation have been performed on pest organisms as well as on woods mock-ups to evaluate potential damage to the material during the sterilization. The growing capacity of the treated bacterial cells re-cultured at the end of the treatment was evaluated on the bacterial sample and resulted to strongly inhibit cell growth during post-irradiation incubation, so that after incubation periods at 28 °C, no significant cell growth was observed. The induced levels of insect mortality and sterility vs absorbed dose and operative conditions have been also evaluated, demonstrating the induction of full sterility since the lower dose and 40% mortality by two days after the higher dose treatment. The experiments proved the ability to efficaciously treat objects of cultural heritage with X-rays in order to prevent the increase of the biodeterioration without damaging the materials: in fact, mechanical tests on both irradiated and not irradiated woods have demonstrated the absence of any induced degradation after the radiation exposition. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


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Citation KeyBorgognoni2017309