According to CBS news last night, there now appears to be a greenhouse gas problem, inside the Sistine Chapel. Carbon dioxide from millions of sweating people visiting the chapel each year, it reported, is threatening the 500 year old ceiling artwork.
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous works of art in the world. But the piece of art is now being threatened by dust, dirt and even carbon dioxide. For the first time, the Vatican has admitted that it may have to limit visitors. …
The news that went around the world from Reuters at Vatican City, the print version of the CBS video, repeated the blame of carbon dioxide from sweating people:
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes turned 500 on Wednesday with the Vatican warning it may eventually limit visitors to protect one of the wonders of Western civilization….”
Pressure caused by humans such as dust introduced, the humidity of bodies, carbon dioxide produced by perspiration can cause unease for the visitors, and in the long run, possible damage to the paintings,” Paolucci said in an article in the Vatican newspaper. “We might limit the access, putting a cap on the number (of visitors). We will do this if tourism grows beyond the limits o reasonable tolerance and if we are not able to respond adequately to the problem,” he said….
Mainstream media doesn’t concern itself with science or accuracy. Carbon dioxide, of course, is heavier than air, making it a stretch to blame it for damaging the ceiling paintings. Methane, though, is lighter than air, but there was no report of concerns due to millions of farts.
Moreover, people don’t sweat carbon dioxide, they exhale it. Sweat is 99% water (with the remaining percentage being sodium chloride, Vitamin C, uric acid, urea, ammonia and lactic acid).
The Vatican does, however, appear to be addressing the most important issues in the conservation of any artwork: controlling humidity and temperature, as well as dirt and light. “Control of temperature and relative humidity is critical in the preservation of library and archival collections because unacceptable levels of these contribute significantly to the breakdown of materials,” according to the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
In 1994, at the end of a 14-year restoration project, technicians installed an elaborate system of dehumidifiers, air conditioning, filters and micro-climate controls in the Sistene chapel. Paolucci told Reuters that Carrier air conditioning, a unit of United Technologies, was studying a “new, high-tech, radically innovative” project to protect the frescoes from atmospheric damage. The new equipment should be ready in a year.