My name is Mark Kearney; I am currently studying for a PhD at SEAHA, the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology based at UCL. I will be looking at VOCs and their interactions with plastics and working with Tate helping to find out more about conserving and preserving their wonderful collection. I was a former ICON/HLF intern for modern materials at the V&A. As ever there may also be other random musings on here too…

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2 thoughts on “About

  1. Ron McCaskill

    hi, i found this blog as i was googling for “mysterious crystals growing on plastic”! – i repair electronics and have noticed a few occurences of 1-2 mm white needle-like crystals that grow out of some plastics – usually black plastic switches and a certain brand of potentiometer. they taste like ammonium chloride or some similar salt. Do you have any idea what they are! – i think they grow where the humidity is high.

    1. makearne Post author

      Hi Ron, thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

      I have a feeling that it might be one of the additives that are used during the manufacture of the plastic. However, it is very difficult to differentiate between the different types of additives without analyzing a sample. Depending on the type of plastic the crystals could be something like plasticizer, or uv blocker, or fire retarder. As the plastic ages these additives can migrate to the surface – this migration can lead to some problems further down the line. It might help if you could store the object in a relatively stable environment, one that isn’t too hot or too cold and that doesn’t fluctuate much, also store it away from direct sunlight. One thing I would say is that is probably not a good idea to be tasting them.


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