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Air ionizers installed in Grand Matsu Temple in Tainan to protect murals from pollution

  • Date:2021-01-25
Air ionizers installed in Grand Matsu Temple in Tainan to protect murals from pollution

To protect the mural painting in the Grand Matsu Temple (大天后宮), a national monument in Tainan City, two air ionizers have been installed next to the murals. The Tainan Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage (TMACH) pointed out on Jan. 25 that purpose of installing the air ionizers is to see the effectiveness of reducing grease and smoke particles.

In view that many temples in Taiwan have been severely damaged by salt weathering as well as grease and smoke particles, TMACH has recently launched an anti-pollution program, starting with an experiment using air ionizers. The research project is carried out by assistant professor Shao Ching-wang (邵慶旺) of the National Taiwan University of Arts and the Tainan National University of the Arts, and subsidized by the Ministry of Culture. If the air purifying method proves effective, more temples will be applying it.

Research has found that cultural relics such as murals, paintings and steles in Taiwan's temples suffer from damage caused by pollution, and they are difficult to preserve, since the temples are located in open spaces and susceptible to environmental effects.

The chemical compounds from incense smoke and particles have produced grease and particulate matters which would accumulate on the murals, and the pollutants could seep through the surface and lead to serious contamination.

The TMACH indicated that experimental observations have so far confirmed the efficacy of the air ionizers in capturing oily fumes and air particles within the temple space.

The TMACH further noted that in the last 20 years, Taiwan's cultural heritage preservation ideals and methods have successfully caught up with rest of the world, and have transitioned from merely restoring cultural relics to also managing and maintaining them, while at the same time also utilizing the latest technologies in preserving temples, which are valuable cultural assets.

If the air ionizers are proven to be effective, the method will be applied in other temples, serving as an extra layer of protection from the adverse effects of pollution.