Submitted: July 4th, 2021
Ewa Krasodomska 4th year
Department of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art
Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts
I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Student Ambassador Program, organized by Sustainability in Conservation. It was interesting to learn about the ways in which our actions in the conservation lab impact the environment. My efforts focused on a few tasks from the SAP guidance notebook, to introduce environmentally sustainable habits in our studios.
My first task was to precisely locate where the contaminated water from our academy buildings flows, which turned out to be a sewage treatment plant 'Płaszów,' located in the suburbs of Krakow. Through further research, I discovered that you mustn't pour dirt with sand down the drain. I asked our professor of conservation of wall painting in our academy about a good way to resolve this problem. The professor recommended 'osadnik'- 'water settler,’ a mechanism by which sand settles to the bottom (Figure 1, 2) so that only clean water flows into the sewage system. In cooperation with Kornelia Paczkowska, I took a photo of the device in our studio and then she made the graphic (Figure 3).
To fully understand the travel path of our building’s sewage, I looked into the technological process of cleaning water (Figure 4). I traced where the sewage continues its journey to the Vistula River, then to the Baltic Sea, onto the North Sea and finally to the Atlantic Ocean. To further understand my own contribution, I checked my footprint. My total water footprint is 324 m3 per year. Components: 114 m3 food and 210 m3 domestic.
When I read the description of sewage treatment at the plant, I found out that we cannot pour turpentine down the sink. To better understand the reasons why, I talked to a chemist in our department who deals with the collection of chemical waste. I then decided to make a poster to educate our academic community not to pour turpentine down the sink after painting classes (Figure 6). Due to Covid, many of our practical lessons have been canceled. However, my hope is that when we return to the academy in October, we will have a normal schedule and we can implement these changes into our studios. This would help to raise awareness of our responsibility to protect the environment.
The situation is similar in terms of other chemical waste. My plan to sort the chemical waste in our conservation studios, was inspired by the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, due to working with the same exporting company. I contacted the professors from the Jagiellonian University and they suggested the following division of waste:
Organic substances with halogens
Halogen-free organic substances (O) (Turpentine, DMF Dimethylformamide, DMSO Dimethyl Sulfoxide, Propyl alcohol (propanol), Petrol)
Alkaline aqueous solutions (ammonia)
Acidic aqueous solutions
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the Student Ambassador Program. It was my first-time taking part in an international project related to sustainability in the conservation profession. Initiatives such as this are necessary to affect positive environmental change and to provide hope for future generations. I hope this type of environmental consciousness will continue to spread throughout our growing community.
Figure 1 - https://ecol-shop.com/userdata/public/gfx/903/EOW-1.jpg
Figure 2 - TILLEY et al. 2014 https://sswm.info/sites/default/files/inlineimages/TILLEY%20et%20al.%202014.%20Schematic%20of%20a%20biogas%20settler.png