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The physical (disintegration) and chemical (decomposition) deterioration of a material due to the effects of biological organisms, such as mammals, insects, plants (fungi, mold, trees) and microorganisms (bacteria) (Caneva et al 1991). Examples of physical processes induced by biodeterioration include fracturing and delamination caused by plant growth, loss of wood or textiles due to insects, and abrasion resulting from foot traffic and touching. Chemical processes induced by biodeterioration include etching, corrosion, discoloration, or dissolution of a material due to the metabolic process of organisms. Organisms can produce

- organic acids: formic, acetic, oxalic, lactic, butyric, succinic, etc.,

- inorganic acids: carbonic, sulfuric, nitric,

- alkaline compounds: ammonia, Sodium carbonate,

- chelating substances: Oxalic acid, Citric acid, Salicylic acid, Malic acid,

- enzymes: Cellulase, Protease, tannase, and

- pigments: Chlorophyll, Carotenoid, anthraquinones.

Resources and Citations

  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • G.Caneva, M.P.Nugari, O.Salvadori, Biology in the Conservation of Works of Art, ICCROM, Rome, 1991