Dear Colleagues,

Apologies for cross posting, but I am in need of some feedback.

Under the pressure of time and reduced budgets this year, our smallish
county is proposing to extend our records storage capacity by purchasing a
set of reinforced fiberglass units similar to modular classrooms that many
of you may have seen.  We are looking at several options, and I am concerned
about off-gassing with this option,among other things.

The materials safety data sheets seem to be restricted to the polyester
resin solution in styrene while it is still in solution, not cured.  In
solution, this material is pretty scary stuff, and carries several
regulations restricting its use and handling.  It is carcinogenic and the
vapors are highly volatile.  The vendor, of course, insists that if there
were off-gassing it would not be rated safe on combustibililty.  I am not
convinced, but have, after 3 days of research been unable to confirm that
off-gassing would be a factor in its cured state.  Given our known concerns
about formaldehyde and off-gassing from such things as particle board and
other compressed fiber shelving, it seems to me that this would not be a
really swell idea!  In particular I am concerned about the combined effects
of creating a microenvironment where the chemicals in paper and these
modulars interact and heighten the liklihood of detrioration and even
possible fusion of other polymers, such as those used in tape, on CDs, vinyl
binders, etc.  Nevertheless, I need data or testamentary evidence.

Have any of you had experience with either these modular units or their use
for offices or records (non-archival but vital)?  Was off-gassing noticable,
or were any tests run on air quality?  What were the results?  Any health
concerns registered?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.


Elizabeth Fairfax
Island County Records and Information Services

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