Can I Microwave Books to Control Mold and Pests?
The literature shows that microwaves do not kill all mold spores, and will only kill active mold if heated to a point that also damages the object itself. Many books have metal components (some book bindings, etc.) that can cause sparking and fire, ultimately causing damage to both the item and the oven. Adhesives may also melt and will weaken the binding.
Discussion on the Conservation Distlist indicates that most researchers agree that irradiation sufficient to kill mold also produces cellulose deterioration. Sandy Nyberg of SOLINET, in "The Invasion of the Giant Spore," (Nov 1987), notes that gamma radiation softens leathers and adhesives, and breaks down the internal structure of paper. In summary, microwave ovens should never be used on library materials.
For more information see the following:
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