The concentrations of CO2, CO, formaldehyde (H2CO) and water vapour were simultaneously monitored in various sections of a mountain church situated in the village of Rocca Pietore in the Italian Alps. The performance of a conventional, hot-air heating system and a novel design for heating the church, consisting of low-temperature heating elements, such as electrically heated pews and carpets, were compared for the supply, transport and removal of gases, the deposition and/or transformation of which may affect the preservation of displayed works of art. Experiments with sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) tracer-gas showed a considerable influx of external air through the hot air carrier ducts of the old heating system, and also the leakage of the internal air mostly via the apertures of the doors. The ventilation rates for the total volume of the church with the hot-air heating system (on for 1.5 h), the new heating system (on for 2 h), and without heating were calculated to be 0.25, 0.18, and 0.13 h-1, respectively. Without heating, a nearly homogeneous distribution of gases has been observed along both the horizontal and the vertical cross-sections of the church. Immediately after switching on the hot-air heating system, the levels of CO2 and water vapour showed a sharp increase. After turning this system off, the levels of gases showed a slow fall and they developed a highly non-homogeneous spatial distribution indoors for many hours. In the upper region of the church, being airtight, higher concentrations of the pollutants could be detected. The low levels of CO and H2CO, mostly originating from incense burning during services, were correlated to that of CO2. The hot-air heating system has been proved to present a potential deterioration risk to artworks, as it increases the supply, transport and deposition probability of air pollutants. On the other hand, the novel, symmetrical heating system eliminates these undesirable effects, thus its application is advantageous to all churches involved in the preservation of works of art.
Bencs, L., Spolnik, Z., Neilen, D., Schellen, H. L., Jütte, B. A. H. G., & Grieken, van, R. (2007). Comparison of hot-air and low-radiant pew heating systems on the distribution and transport of gaseous air pollutants in the mountain church of Rocca Pietore from artwork conservation points of view. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 8(3), 264-271. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.culher.2007.05.001