Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Saving Da Vinci's Last Supper from air pollution

Date:
November 22, 2011
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Having survived long centuries, political upheaval and even bombings during World War II, Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" masterpiece now faces the risk of damage from air pollution due to its location in one of Western Europe's most polluted cities. Scientists have used monitors to ensure that indoor pollution has been drastically reduced at the church, though visitors enjoying the painting remain a potential source of soiling.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper."
Credit: Photo/Authorized by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici di Milano, Italy

Having survived long centuries, political upheaval and even bombings during World War II, Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" masterpiece now faces the risk of damage from air pollution due to its location in one of Western Europe's most polluted cities.

In late 2009, the church refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where the painting is located, installed a sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to protect the painting from the polluted air of Milan.

To test the effectiveness of their pollution countermeasures, Italian officials called on Constantinos Sioutas, Fred Champion professor of civil and environmental engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

For his ongoing research, Sioutas has designed unobtrusive air samplers that are compact and quiet.

"These air pollution sampling technologies are ideally suited for use in sensitive facilities, such as art galleries and museums. They do not disrupt the day-to-day operations of the facility," he said.

A multinational team that included USC scientists used the monitors to determine that indoor pollution has been drastically reduced at the church, though visitors enjoying the painting remain a potential source of soiling. The team's findings will be presented in December in Milan.

The team deployed two sets of air quality monitors for one year at the church and found that -- for the most part -- the Italian authority responsible for the facility housing the famous painting is winning the war with outdoor air pollution.

Fine and coarse particulate matter concentrations were reduced around the painting by 88 and 94 percent, respectively, from their corresponding outdoor levels.

"It's a spectacular reduction," Sioutas said. "It is, frankly, very impressive."

Indoor sources of pollution, however, still may pose a threat of soiling on the painting.

Nancy Daher, USC graduate student and lead author of a journal article on the team's findings, said that fatty lipids from the skin of visitors to the church still appeared in significant quantities around the artwork -- even with visitor access to the painting strictly regulated. The article appears this month in Environmental Science & Technology.

Only a handful of patrons are allowed into the church via an airlock-style chamber at any given time and are allowed to stay only for 15 minutes at a stretch.

Airborne lipids from visitors' skin can combine with dust in the air and, if they come in contact with the painting, soil it, Daher said.

"Even the painting itself is emitting," she said.

Tiny particles of wax used in early repair efforts on the "Last Supper" also can get into the air, soiling the painting in the same manner.

In addition to aiding in the conservation of the painting, the team's research can be used as a benchmark for future studies aimed at protecting indoor artworks and antiquities.

Daher's article was co-authored with Sioutas, as well as Ario Ruprecht, Giovanni Invernizzi, Cinzia de Marco of LARS Laboratorio di Ricerca Ambientale SIMG/ISDE in Milan, and Justin Miller-Schulze, Jong Bae Heo, Martin M. Shafer and James J. Schauer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The research was supported by funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and USC Viterbi.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. The original article was written by Robert Perkins and Katie Dunham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Saving Da Vinci's Last Supper from air pollution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111122162828.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2011, November 22). Saving Da Vinci's Last Supper from air pollution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111122162828.htm
University of Southern California. "Saving Da Vinci's Last Supper from air pollution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111122162828.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins