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Cultural heritage institutions allocate considerable resource to mitigating the risks of dust in their collections. In archives and libraries boxing collections and cleaning regimes go some way to address the problem. However, evidence of the efficacy of these methods is difficult to validate experimentally as dust is very difficult to see. To evaluate the efficacy of our boxing and cleaning programmes, The National Archives’ Collection Care Department developed a method that used UV-fluorescing powder to mimic the movement and dispersal of dust during experimental cleaning and handling scenarios. Visual evaluation of dust dispersal enabled a qualitative assessment of the efficacy of existing collection cleaning techniques. Photographs and videos confirmed the value of vacuuming as the most efficient method of removing dust in comparison to other methods, and validated the usefulness of folders and boxes in limiting dust deposition and transfer onto archival documents.
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