Let The Microfilm Depot Help You With Microfilm And Microfiche Records Decaying Or Falling Prey To Vinegar Syndrome

Microfilm microfiche is generally thought of as a legacy format, and yet quite a few government archives still use it,  When any agency or department intends to upgrade their records to digital formats, it’s often because they need to comply with various recent government mandates. In these cases, they have to be sure that previous physical records are maintained until the upgrades or conversions are totally done. Even after an agency has moved over to digital archives, there might still be a need for the storage and protection of original film as a legally necessary record.

The deterioration of many physical records is a mounting issue around the world, especially in Latin America. Microfilm that was made prior to the 1980s is more than likely to be based in cellulose acetate, and that’s particularly susceptible to acids, moisture, and heat. Deterioration is something that can accelerate when microfilm records get stored improperly.

Have you checked in on your own microfilm records at any point this past year? If your own physical records aren’t cared for and stored appropriately, then they might be deteriorating as you read this, either gradually or even quickly. Unfortunately, the impact of this typically can’t get reversed. On the other hand, it is possible to slow down the process of deterioration when symptoms and signs are noticed early and then treated promptly.

Chris Ferrer
Advanced Imaging Solutions
The Microfilm Depot
1776 N Pine Island Road Suite 222
Plantation, Florida 33322
786-985-2047 Office
954-806-7842 Cell

Symptoms of decaying or fading microfilm:

A smell of vinegar: This is sometimes called ‘vinegar syndrome’, and it’s the most common symptom of microfilm decaying. When the process of deterioration starts in cellulose acetate, a vinegar smell results. This process speeds up with exposure to moisture and heat. Any microfilm that is decaying will slowly build up acetic acid. It then gets released and is able to evaporate as it is either absorbed by the immediate storage container or just gets trapped in the larger storage unit. Any acetic acid trapped like this just compounds the decay of microfilm.

Discoloration: A pink or bluish tint on your microfilm signifies a turn towards acidic composition. Also be wary of color spotting.

Buckling: Bubbling and shrinking are both warning signs of potential vinegar syndrome. Severe accumulation of acetic acid might even mean the microfilm begins to crumble.

Storage deterioration: Look through your microfilm record storage containers. Rusty and/or crumbling storage units might be indications of there being gasses present.

Be mindful of the fact that deterioration is going to over time make film unreadable and then totally unusable, even if all of the best practices get followed. The process of deterioration for any acetate microfilm is something that can be slowed down substantially, but it’s not entirely avoidable.

If you have looked over your own microfilm records and noticed symptoms of decay, then you have a couple of options. Modern microfilm makes for an effective medium of physical records, considering how it will last a century and is resistant to water. You can get copies on modern film, attempt film repairs, or just upgrade to digital records. With the professional assistance of a reliable service provider like MicrofilmDepot.com, you can restore stability to aging archives and pick the permanent answer that suits your circumstances.

The Microfilm Depot frequently suggests that at the very least you have deteriorating documents and archives transferred to microfilm with more longevity and stability. Whenever possible, the digitization of records is a good idea, if only to make access much easier. A free, no-obligation briefing is a great way to find out more about your choices in terms of record protection and storage.