During normal use, films are exposed to a wide variety of dirts and soils. Projector oils and greases from fingers build up on the surface over time. Many of these are acidic, or become acidic, and can accelerate dye fade and silver image oxidation. It is possible that they may even have an effect on base decomposition.

Over time these patches of oil may also harden and become difficult to remove and become visible on projection or during duplication. Small hard particles of dust and 'film dust’, the small amount of film that is worn off around the edges of the perforations by machine transport mechanisms, are sources of potential scratching when the film is handled. While cleaning can be expensive it does reduce the risk of the problems mentioned above.

Film should not be stored in a plastic or paper bag. Plastic bags will trap decomposition gases and this will accelerate decomposition. Unless Kodak’s 'acid scavenger – molecular sieve’ is being used, where it is recommended to enclose the film and the sieve together in a plastic bag inside the can. Paper bags are a source of acids and dust and all similar packaging, such as newspapers that may have been used to prevent the film from moving around during transport, must also be removed.

Fig 8.4 Decomposed 'rubber’ band on a film

'Rubber’ or 'elastic’ bands must be removed from the films before storage. These can decompose and release sulfur compounds that will damage the silver or dye image. In extreme cases the band will decompose to a soft mass that will run down inside the film pack and requires a large effort to remove it completely.

Film splicing tape or other tape that has passed the 'photographic activity test’ can be used to secure the loose end of the leader. Any other tapes, including unknown tapes holding sections of the film together inside the film pack, should be removed and replaced with splicing tape known to be safe or the film should be cement spliced.

Any paper objects, such as grading or timing charts, loans information, invoices etc., must be removed before the film is sent for storage. Any such documentation should be noted and stored in a acid free envelope with the film I.D. information clearly written on it. Similar entries should be made in the cataloging system so that the two objects can be linked together in the future.


  • ANSI Standard IT9.16-1993 Photographic Activity Test