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Re: [BKARTS] Itchy hand syndrome and old childrens books



> I've received a call from a customer who mentions that each time
> they start
> opening books her husband had as a child, their hands start to itch.  I
> haven't seen the books, she says they are in good shape but have the itchy
> hand problem.

Could be dust mites or book lice, esp. if the books have been stored for a
while. Canada's Office of Health and Safety posts this advice (which I
excerpted for pertinent info):

 What precautions should be taken when moving collections of books and
paper?

In addition to the safety hazards (falls, trips over boxes), and lifting
concerns, you may experience problems with dust, dust mites, mould and book
lice, especially if papers or books have been stored for a while.

The three major inhalation hazards are dust, dust mites and mold. If these
are present then it is likely that they will become airborne when staff are
handling the materials. Once these materials are airborne then there is
potential for staff to be exposed.

Dust mites are invisible and are a fairly common allergen. People who are
allergic to dust mites may experience symptoms such as itchy, irritated
eyes, runny nose, cough and in more severe cases, shortness of breath and
difficulty breathing (asthma). Onset of severe symptoms can be delayed and
occur during the night.

Booklice (psocids) are minute, soft-bodied, transparent to grayish-white
insects about 1/32 to 3/16 inch (1 to 4 mm) long, usually wingless, and may
go unnoticed. It is helpful to use a hand lens and flashlight for detection.
Booklice avoid light and prefer temperatures of approximately 24°C to 30°C
(75°F to 85°F) with relative humidity of 75 to 90 percent. They do not bite
humans or animals or spread disease. However, skin irritation may occur in
some sensitive individuals.

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