I know I can use bleach to kill most of the spores that live on my walls. I know I have to keep humidity below a certain level and temperature above another to prevent the spread of mold. I have read tons of websites on how to treat 'wall infestations'.

It's the mold that affects my books that worries me the most. Especially now that I've discovered a very enticing market for used books. You can find bargains but sometimes the books smell "of mold".

I would like to know more about the kind of molds (and/or fungi or other bio-monsters) that usually feast on paper. The paper that makes the pages of a book.

Can someone point me to any kind of resource with answers to the following questions?

  1. What are the most common biological causes of page deterioration? 1b. Can they be identified without lab instrumentation?
  2. Can they spread from one book to another, and if yes how and how fast?
  3. Can they be neutralized in some way (stopping the spread), or should one just burn the moldy books to avoid contagion?

I seek knowledge to protect knowledge.


1 Answer 1


Mold can grow in Extreme environments: they can live in very low water activity level, sometimes as lower as 0.71, live in refrigerator temperatures, these characteristics make it difficult to kill them thoroughly. You can search "paper deterioration" in Google or library, then you can find lots article about this.

1) Causes

Foxing and other white, fluffy coating or light yellow powder on paper caused by: Eurotium rubrum, E. repens, Aspergillus versicolor, Penicillium solitum, and Penicillium decumbens. (Karbowska-Berent, Joanna, Joanna Jarmiłko, and Jolanta Czuczko. Source: "Fungi in Fox Spots of a Drawing by Leon Wyczółkowski." Restaurator. International Journal for the Preservation of Library and Archival Material 35.2 (2014): 159-179.)

Black spots: Monilia, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Mucor, Stemphylium, Hormodendrum, Fusarium, Chaetomium, Byssochlamys Source: Beckwith, Theodore Day, Wilbur Harold Swanson, and Thomas Marion Iiams. "Deterioration of paper: the cause and effect of foxing." Publ. Univ. Calif., biol Sci. 1.13 (1940): 299-356.

2) Spreading

For their spread, I think the mold can spread everywhere, but i did not find any resource about it.

3) Method that kill the mold

Drying the affected paper objects and applying 70% ethanol are the most preferred options to stop active fungal growth. Source: Sequeira, Sílvia O., Eurico J. Cabrita, and Maria F. Macedo. "Fungal Biodeterioration of Paper: How are Paper and Book Conservators Dealing with it? An International Survey." Restaurator. International Journal for the Preservation of Library and Archival Material 35.2 (2014): 181-199.


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