CLASSIC movies can now be preserved for generations without fearing loss of print quality. Though movie films are kept in sealed cans to keep dirt out, they are vulnerable to the "vinegar syndrome", a decay caused by traces of acetic acid released by the film as it ages.
Researchers at Kodak's headquarters in Rochester, New York, have found that zeolite -- a form of sodium aluminosilicate -- absorbs not only all the moisture trapped inside the can, but also the acetic acid, thus preventing film degradation (New Scientist, Vol 141, No 1910). Kodak began testing the system last year with 10 old movies and is convinced that the simple system works even on films that have already begun to degrade.
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