Acetate film was used in New Zealand prior to 1985 although some bureaux irresponsibly continued its use as late as the mid 1990’s. Acetate film was also known as "Safety Film" and replaced the highly combustible nitrate film used up until the early 1950's. Acetate film is prone to a slow form of chemical deterioration called “Vinegar Syndrome” which causes the film base to shrink, buckle and emit a strong vinegar odour.
If you detect vinegar syndrome in your microfilm collection it is important to isolate the affected films as the fumes released will markedly increase the chances of the other films being “contaminated”.
TIP: - your photographic collection can suffer from the same malaise - we can help there too.
The only solution to films with vinegar syndrome is to duplicate them onto modern polyester films or at least chill them right down to slow the degradation. Polyester is a chemically inert plastic that doesn’t break down with time as acetate can.
We are experienced in duplicating acetate microfilm with vinegar syndrome onto polyester film and have specialised equipment for this task. Please contact us if you have any concerns about your microfilm collection.