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Impacts of PM Pollution on Cultural Heritage

Basic research project: ARRS J1-1707

Project leader: Ana Kroflič


Project Description:
The interaction of air pollutants with exposed materials leads to materials degradation and loss. This also holds true for objects of cultural heritage, causing immeasurable damage to the community. Among all atmospheric pollutants, particulate matter (PM) has been recently identified to be the most responsible for material recession outdoors and is also found problematic in in-house museum repositories without air filtration.
It is believed that future soiling (i.e., surface blackening due to particle deposition) of stone heritage will be primarily caused by organic aerosols with different chemical composition from that of the historic black crusts still present on almost all monuments in Europe. However, very little to nothing is known about the interactions of the deposited organic PM with the underlying surfaces. Therefore, we aim to i) recognize the damaging potential of the OC fraction of atmospheric aerosols and ii) understand the modes of action with which PM damages material surfaces, in order to iii) assess the risk and recognize necessary actions for better protection of cultural heritage in Slovenia, and worldwide.
The research will be coordinated by the National Institute of Chemistry (NIC, Department of Analytical Chemistry) and conducted in collaboration with the National Museum of Slovenia (NMS).

Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS)

Funding period: 01.07.2019-31.06.2022
Funded hours: 2469 annually

Project Team:
Dr. Ana Kroflič (project leader, PI at NIC)
Dr. Kristijan Vidović (young researcher)
Dr. Martin Šala (researcher)
Dr. Irena Grgić (researcher)
Dr. Marjan Bele (researcher)
Monika Ogrizek (young researcher)
Ivana Drventić (young researcher)
Dr. Eva Menart (researcher, PI at NMS)


i) Risk Assessment (100%)
A new platform for assessing the risk for cultural heritage in Slovenia by using air-monitoring data will be set up. This will allow for future climate change impact, vulnerability and risk assessments referring to the national objects of cultural significance and will be a good source of information for the development of national multi-sectoral adaptation policies (e.g., air quality standards).

ii) Characterization of the Soiling Material and Source Apportionment (90%)
PM material deposited on the surfaces of passive particle collectors made of different materials typical of cultural heritage objects will be characterized and compared with the composition of ambient air. Focus will be on the brown carbon fraction of PM, i.e. the OC fraction exhibiting light absorption in the near uv and visible range, which could also contribute to the darkening of soiled surfaces.

iii) Soiling Material Aging (90%)
Chemical aging (i.e. weathering) of the deposited PM (and material surfaces) will be studied indoors and outdoors by use of passive particle collectors. Surface samples will also be taken from real archeological objects which belong to NMS.



1) OGRIZEK, Monika, JAĆIMOVIĆ, Radojko, ŠALA, Martin, KROFLIČ, Ana. No more waste at the elemental analysis of airborne particulate matter on quartz fibre filters. Talanta, 2021, vol. 226, str. 122110-1-122110-10.

2) KROFLIČ, Ana, VIDOVIĆ, Kristijan, MENART, Eva. Onesnaženost zraka v Sloveniji kot tveganje za našo kulturno dediščino. Varstvo spomenikov, 2022, vol. 52 (accepted for publication).

3) OGRIZEK, Monika, KROFLIČ, Ana, ŠALA, Martin. Critical review on the development of analytical techniques for the elemental analysis of airborne particulate matter. Trends in environmental analytical chemistry, ISSN 2214-1588, 20. Jan. 2022, vol. 33, 14 str.

4) VIDOVIĆ, Kristijan, HOČEVAR, Samo, MENART, Eva, DERVENTIĆ, Ivana, GRGIĆ, Irena, KROFLIČ, Ana. Impact of Air pollution on Cultural Heritage Objects and Decoding the Role of Particulate Matter. A critical review. Atmospheric Environment (under review).


"Ljudje smo si preveč prilastili naš planet" : o kemiji ozračja z najrazličnejših zornih kotov z dr. Ano Kroflič, (Podobe znanja). Ljubljana: Radiotelevizija Slovenija javni zavod, 2021.


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