NCA maintains 3 million+ gravesites. A critical component of maintaining cemetery appearance is headstone cleaning. Individual national cemeteries tend to use a wide variety of cleaners, some of which can have harmful long term effects.
NCA preserves its historic headstones, defined as 50 years+, by retaining them unless no longer serviceable; and not correcting historic errors or removing historic MOH markers.
NCPTT was established by Congress to advance technologies in historic preservation.NCPTT recommendations are for senior and headquarters staff, cemetery directors, operations staff and contractors. NCPTT recommendations include long-term effects of cleaning: the soiling agent to be removed, potential threats by soiling, and unintended results of cleaning.NCPTT recommendations do not address needs for removal of road tar, mower scars, vandalism, or accidental damage. Recommendations for other stone types (granite, sandstone, limestone) are not presented here.
NCA contracted for the NPS study as a general guide for cleaning marble govt-issued headstones soiled by dirt/biological growth
Location Differences outweighed climatic differences in the observation of biological regrowth. One year after cleaning, Jefferson Barracks was the first to show visible biological regrowth. Based on biological studies Bath and Jefferson barracks showed colonies of bacteria and fungi. Santa Fe showed the least amount of regrowth.Results suggest that semi arid environments like Santa Fe will need to be cleaned less often than typical humid locations such as Jefferson Barracks, Bath, or Alexandria.The fogs of San Francisco can promote biological growth.
Less biological growth occurs in sunny locations, likely due to drier conditions and move intense UV radiation.Greater numbers of bacteria and fungi were found in shady areas, likely due to more moisture, and food sources from the surrounding trees and vegetation.Results suggest that an overall cleaning of the cemetery can then be followed up with spot cleaning in shady areas.
Dirt (soil, mud) stains stone or gives it a dingy appearance. It leads to mold/mildew growth on stone, and minerals containing iron leave rust-colored stains. Air pollution (vehicle exhaust, industrial activities) generates pollutants that change the look of stone over time. For example, sulfur dioxide interacts with marble to cause gypsum crusts that capture pollution particles to make rough, gray surfaces.Biological organisms (bacteria, mold, mildew, algae, moss, lichen) establish a biofilm made of proteins and sugars that is hard to remove; they provide food for organism growth. Bacteria consume air pollutants and make acids that attack stone; fungi penetrate stone and carry bacteria deep into pores.Bird droppingsor other animal secretions can stain stone and be difficult to remove. Plant or tree sap is a sticky substance that drips from overhanging trees. It may contain resins not easily dissolved in water. Sugars in sap attract insects or provide food for molds, mildews.
Salt damage can disintegrate stone surface. Salts in the stone, surrounding ground, irrigation water and some herbicides and cleaners, migrate through the stone’s porous network damage. Salts are dissolved and transported by water. They can recrystallize and exert pressures in the pores that may exceed the strength of the stone. Thus, do not use cleaners that leave behind salts.Freeze-thaw cycles can increase stone weathering. Water gets into openings, cracks and pores of stone. If freezing temperatures exist, the water can freeze and expand. Since most cleaning efforts require saturating the stone with liquids, do not clean headstones during freezing temperatures or when a freeze is expected within 48 hours of the cleaning.Improper cleaning can stain the stone or accelerate deterioration. Poor cleaning methods can cause damage. This includes use of power-washing equipment too close to the surface, sanding equipment, not rinsing after application of cleaners, and using products in a greater strength than the manufacturer recommends.
Use the gentlest, least invasive method . Select methods and materials that do not affect the headstone. Chemicals and physical treatments should be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.Consider long-term effects. Cleaning impacts are not always obvious. Marble is made of porous carbonate mineral. As surfaces are cleaned, material is loosened and lost, and mineral binder is affected. Over time and cleanings, the surface is altered–called sugaring. Some marble is more prone to deterioration--Colorado Yule is more affected than Georgia’s Cherokee White.Minimize cleaning impacts. Limit the times a headstone is cleaned in its lifetime. While a cyclic maintenance plan is needed to maintain appearance, over-cleaning should be avoided. Historic headstones should not be cleaned more than once a year, if possible. Don’t remove original surface. Original surface may be polished, smooth; if it is altered, marble may weather poorly. A roughened surface will soil easier and inscriptions will erode. Never aggressively scrub the surface, use wire brushes or mechanical methods such as sanders/grinders on marble. Test cleaner first. Always test before wholesale cleaning, per recommended procedures, and let test area dry before inspection. For biocidal cleaners it may take days before the full effect is realized.
Bleach/bleach-like products. Household bleach or oxidizing cleaners will cause chemical reaction and leave soluble salts in stone pores that will lead to decay. Check the MSDS for these active ingredients: sodium hypochlorite, sodium perborate, sodium percarbonate, sodium persulfate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, calcium hypochlorite or urea peroxide. Do not use products containing these. For example, Daybreak contains 14% sodium hypochlorite and is not recommended. Strong acids or bases. Strong acids (muriatic, hydrochloric) are harsh and will dissolve the stone surface. They are corrosive and can be hazardous to workers. Strong bases (concentrated ammonia, sodium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide) may be too aggressive for the stone and hazardous to users. Power tools & pressure washing Harsh mechanical devices (sand blasters, sanders, drills w/wire brush) will remove original stone. Commercial pressure washers (750 psi to 30,000 psi) will damage marble headstones. The proper distance/pressure to clean a headstone is about 12”/500 psi or less. A test is recommended prior to cleaning.
A headstone-cleaning regimen should be based on environmental factors--humidity /precipitation, biological growth rates, tree cover/vegetation, and others activity that influence s the frequency of cleaning.Follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Two key factors are dilution ratio and dwell time. A small amount of cleaner should be added to water to create the required ratio; using a cleaner in a more concentrated form may damage the stone. Dwell time is the amount of time a cleaner is left on the stone before scrubbing/rinsing it. Biocidal cleaners are used against biological growth (algae, mildew, moss, lichen). Most biocidal additives also slow regrowth for a time. Recommended biocidal cleaners are D/2 Biological Solution, EnviroKlean® BioWash®, or others containing quaternary ammonium compounds. Follow directions and rinse thoroughly. Consult with the manufacturer to see if the biocidal cleaner contains buffers that may leave salts behind on the (stone and avoid these?.) Marble cleaned with biocides should continue to lighten over several days. The advantage of a biocidal cleaner is that it helps remove a wide range of soiling including biological growth. The disadvantage is that the cleaners are more expensive than other products on the market.Note: Sometimes vivid colors are seen upon application of the biocide. This is the result of organisms dying. The discoloration should rinse off immediately and have no permanet effect.
2 evaluation of cleaners for government issued headstones
Evaluation of Cleaners for Government Issued Headstones<br />Mary F. Striegel and Jason Church<br />National Park Service<br />National Center for Preservation Technology and Training<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
NCA Maintains 3 million+ gravesites.<br />Today’s marker is tomorrow’s historic headstone.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
NCA preserves historic headstones which are 50 years or older.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
NCPTT is a leader in advancing preservation technology.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
NCPTT was contracted by NCA to evaluate cleaners for marble headstones based on soiling and biogrowth.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Recommendations must meet NCA National Shrine Standards.<br />Headstones, markers, niche covers are clean, free of debris and objectionable accumulations.<br /> Headstones, markers, niche covers are not damaged by cemetery operations. <br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
Definitions<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
The StudyPhase I (2004-2005)<br />Define Goals<br />Choose Cleaning Criteria<br />Evaluate commercially available cleaners based on:<br />Appearance<br />Biological Re-growth<br />Physical and Chemical Changes<br />Ease of Use<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Selection of Cleaners:<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
San Francisco National Cemetery<br /><ul><li> San Francisco, CA</li></ul>Bath National Cemetery<br /><ul><li> Bath, NY</li></ul>Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery<br /><ul><li> St. Louis, MO</li></ul>Santa Fe National Cemetery<br /><ul><li> Santa Fe, NM</li></ul>Alexandria National Cemetery<br /><ul><li> Pineville, LA</li></ul>Field Test Sites<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
Implement Field Studies<br />5 cleaners + water<br />1,440 test patches <br />240 stones<br />5 National Cemeteries<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Micro-organisms<br /><ul><li>Bacteria: can slowly cause stone loss
Algaes: provides the most visual changes</li></ul>Fungi sample found on marker in San Francisco.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Phase II (2005-2007)<br />Monitor regrowthin the field for 18 months<br />Evaluate cleaning effects on test stone in the lab<br />Elimination: H2Orange Cleaner and Kodak PhotoFlo<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Elimination: Bath National Cemetery<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
Phase III (2008-2011)<br />Long-term monitoring at two sites<br />Pineville and Jefferson Barracks cleaned study headstones<br />Alternate laboratory study was devised at Harvard University<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Results<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Significant Findings from the Study<br />Field studies showed:<br />Kodak Photo-Flo was the first cleaner to fail in the field (greatest biological regrowth)<br />H2Orange Safe Cleaner failed after six months at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery (killed bacteria but left green fungi)<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Significant Findings from the Study<br />Lab studies showed:<br />Daybreak cleaner left significant salt deposits on stone<br />D2 Biological solution left small amounts of salts on stone (pH buffer additive?)<br />D2 Biological Solution was reformulated, no salts found on repeat testing with new formula<br />Daybreak<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Significant Findings from the Study<br />Further biological studies showed:<br />WEG Marble and Granite Cleaner failed after 188 days in laboratory accelerated studies.<br />D2 Biological Solution performed as well as Daybreak without harmful salt residues.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
ClimaticDifferences<br />Semi Arid Steppe: Santa Fe<br />Mediterranean: <br /> San Francisco<br />Humid Continental: <br /> Bath <br /> Jefferson Barracks <br />Humid Subtropical: Alexandria<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Location Differences<br /><ul><li>Sunny areas:</li></ul>Biocidal effects last much longer. <br /><ul><li>Shady areas:</li></ul>Fungal growth is more likely to return.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Issues to Consider<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Headstone Soiling<br />Dirt<br />Air Pollution<br />Biological Organisms<br />Bird Droppings<br />Plant or Tree Sap<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Other Threats to Headstones<br />Salt Damage<br />Freeze Thaw Cycles<br />Improper Cleaning<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Preservation Practices<br />Use the gentlest least invasive method<br />Consider long-term effects<br />Minimize cleaning impacts<br />Don’t remove original surface<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Cleaning known to damage stone<br />Bleach and Bleach like products<br />Strong acids or bases<br />Power tools<br />Pressure washing<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Cleaner Factors to Consider<br />Manufacturer’s Recommendations <br />Dilution ratio<br />Dwell time<br />Biocidal Cleaners<br />Lightening with time<br />Temporary non-permanent color changes during cleaning<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
Recommended Actions<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Cleaning Recommendations<br />Use D2 Biological Solution or similar biocidal cleaner, following manufacturer’s directions. Do not dilute.<br />Apply to WET stone surface using a sprayer.<br />Gently agitate with a soft bristle brush.<br />RINSE thoroughly with water.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />
Cleaning Frequency Factors<br />Research offers observations, but frequency of cleaning will depend on location and climate of individual cemeteries.<br />Different locations will need different cleaning schedules.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Spot Cleaning<br />Minimize the frequency of cleaning the entire cemetery by scheduling spot cleaning on those headstones located in shady areas that exhibit more biological growth and soiling.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote <br />
Summary<br />Of the five cleaners tested, D2 Biological solution was most effective and left no harmful residues.<br />Daybreak is a bleach solution.<br />Continued use of Daybreak will result in long term damage to headstones.<br />Use of high pressure power washers can erode the headstone surface and deteriorate headstone.<br />Use of chemical cleaners can be successfully accomplished by a three-person team.<br />Draft: Do Not Use, Cite, or Quote<br />