the all-seeingeyeThreats to Photographs

Paper, and by extension photographs, are at once extremely fragile and remarkably durable objects. If made from high-quality raw materials, and protected from environmental or physical harm, paper will last thousands of years. At the opposite end of the spectrum, poorly made paper under poor storage conditions might last months-without calling for dramatic events like fire, flood, or insect damage. There are a number of common threats to photographs that can be controlled or eliminated with proper storage and handling.

It is important to note that, broadly speaking, there are two classes of threats; the microscopic and the macroscopic. The microscopic threats are interconnected and each can have an accelerating effect on the other. This microscopic group is made up of chemicals, temperature, and humidity. Much like the triumvirate of fuel, air, and heat we learned as children in fire safety class, if you remove one of the elements, we can stop or significantly slow the effect. The macroscopic threats are less well tied together. These present themselves in the way we store and handle our photographs. Preventing flood damage, excessive heat, and keeping out hungry organisms are the preventative means for these threats.

Disclaimer: I'm neither a chemist nor physicist, I only play one on the web.