Vinegar Syndrome health concerns

Talk about the work of collecting, restoring and preserving our film heritage here.
  • Author
  • Message
User avatar


  • Posts: 31
  • Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:04 pm
  • Location: Little Old New York

Vinegar Syndrome health concerns

PostWed Feb 15, 2017 10:13 pm

I was wondering if anyone would know if when I buy old film that has some serious vinegar syndrome (I have found some in truly, awful, awful shape) when I unspool it if it could be a danger to my lungs? I have worn a mask before (just because of the putrid smell) but should I be doing that all the time?
Film Writer, Director, Actor, Historian, and Bespectacled Young Man.
User avatar

Hamilton's Grandson

  • Posts: 334
  • Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 10:56 pm
  • Location: Tacoma,WA

Re: Vinegar Syndrome health concerns

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 11:33 pm

I think if you wear a surgical mask each and every time you handle the film and non-powdered vinyl gloves with good ventilation in the room, you are probably much less at risk then if you don't take these precautions. I read that celluloid film is a combination of sulfuric acid and potassium nitrate, so that certainly can't be good to breath that in for long periods of time.

Last year, I was given 5 short reels from my mom that my grandfather appeared in and one of the 5 reels was a messy, sticky, stinky reel that was probably stage 4 decomposition. 4 of the reels were restored at 16 and 24 fps and are short resume reels that were in stage 1 decomposition and they turned out great. I tried to convince Debbenham to restore what was left the 5th reel, but they said don't bother as not much can be retrieved from the print.

Good luck,
Mark Hamilton (I) is on
Joseph Hamilton (I) is on
Gertrude Brooke Hamilton is on
User avatar

Jack Theakston

  • Posts: 1837
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:25 pm
  • Location: New York, USA

Re: Vinegar Syndrome health concerns

PostTue Feb 21, 2017 11:03 pm

Vinegar syndrome is just that... vinegar. Acetic acid. Although, it can burn in strong concentrations. If it's particularly potent, a face mask will suffice.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"

Return to Collecting and Preservation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 9 guests