37483 - Environmental Impact on Materials, Deterioration and Ageing

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will acquire: - basic information on the environmental risk to cultural property caused by physical, chemical, biological and natural factors; - basic information about environmental impact on the constituent materials in works of art; - methodologies for assessing the microclimate in indoor and outdoor environment for a sustainable protection of cultural artefacts and providing criteria and methodologies for assessing the environmental risk and vulnerability of cultural heritage at local, regional and national scale, including the impact of climate change; - criteria and methods to plan strategies for preventive conservation and to present examples of application to museums, archives and library.

Course contents

UNIT on Environmental Impact and Damage Processes of Cultural Heritage: Alessandra Bonazza

  • Deterioration processes affecting low porous materials
  • Deterioration processes affecting high porous materials
  • Deterioration processes affecting air setting and hydraulic mortars
  • Ageing field and laboratory tests. Case studies.
  • Climate change impact on the built cultural heritage
  • Modelling for damage mapping
  • Risk assessment and cultural heritage resilience
  • Adaptation and mitigation strategies for cultural heritage protection
  • Practical work in teams on environmental damage assessment on cultural heritage

UNIT on Environmental Monitoring and Deposition for Cultural Heritage Protection: Cristina Sabbioni

  • Physical, chemical, biological and other factors responsible for deterioration
  • Transportation and deposition mechanisms of pollutants
  • Microclimate and indoor environments


Vidorni G., Sardella A., De Nuntiis P., Volpi F., Dinoi A., Contini D., Comite V., Vaccaro C., Fermo P., Bonazza A. (in press). Air pollution impact on carbonate building stones in Italian urban sites. The European Physical Journal Plus.

Lamhasni T., El-Marjaoui H., El Bakkali A., Ait Lyazidi S., Haddad M., Ben-Ncer A., Benyaich F., Bonazza A., Tahri M., 2019. Air pollution impact on architectural heritage of Morocco: Combination of synchronous fluorescence and ATR-FTIR spectroscopies for the analyses of black crusts deposits. Chemosphere 225, 517-523. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.03.109.

Ciantelli C., Sardella A., Pecchioni E., Favoni O., Bonazza A., 2019. Herodian Machaerus Fortress (Jordan): investigation of mortars belonging to the hydraulic constructions. Journal of Cultural Heritage. https://doi.org/10.1080/15583058.2018.1558312.

Sardella A., De Nuntiis P., Bonazza A., 2018. Efficiency evaluation of treatments against rising damp by scale models and test in situ. Journal of Cultural Heritage, Special Issue ModihMA 2018, 31S, S30-S37.

Ciantelli, C., Palazzi E., Von Hardenberg J., Vaccaro C., Tittarelli F., Bonazza A., 2018. How can climate change affect the UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Panama? Geosciences (Switzerland) 8, https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8080296

Bonazza A., Vidorni G., Natali I., Giosuè C., Tittarelli F. 2017. Durability assessment to environmental impact of nano-structured consolidants on Carrara marble by field exposure tests. Science of the Total Environment, 575, 23-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.004.

Barca D., Comite V., Belfiore C.M., Bonazza A., La Russa M.F., Ruffolo S.A., Crisci G.M., Pezzino A., Sabbioni, C., 2014. Impact of air pollution in deterioration of carbonate building materials in Italian urban environments. Applied Geochemistry, 48, 122-131. DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2014.07.002

Belfiore C.M., Barca D., Bonazza A., Comite V., La Russa M.F., Pezzino A., Ruffolo S.A., Sabbioni C., 2013. Application of spectrometric analysis to the identification of pollution sources causing cultural heritage damage. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20 (12), 8848-8859.

Gomez-Bolea, A., Llop E., Arino X., Saiz-Jimenez C., Bonazza A., Messina P., Sabbioni C., 2012. Mapping the impact of climate change on biomass accumulation on stone. Journal of Cultural Heritage 13, 254-258.

Sabbioni C., Brimblecombe P., Cassar M., (2010) Atlas of climate change impact on European Cultural Heritage, Anthem Press, ISBN 978927909800-0, 146 pp.

Bonazza A., Sabbioni C., Messina P., Guaraldi C., De Nuntiis P., 2009. Climate change impact: mapping thermal stress on Carrara marble in Europe. Science of the Total Environment, 407, 4506-4512.

Bonazza A., Messina P., Sabbioni C., Grossi C. M., Brimblecombe P. 2009. Mapping the impact of climate change on surface recession of carbonate buildings in Europe. Science of the Total Environment 407, 2039-2050.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods

Frontal Teaching

Interactive discussion in team

Practical exercise in teams

Practical sessions in laboratory

Assessment methods

Oral Examination.

The final exam consists of a discussion on the topics covered in class (a minimum of 3 questions will be asked), aimed at the evaluation of the theoretical knowledge acquired during the course, the possession of the scientific language and the acquisition of an organic vision of the topics covered.
Good or excellent grades can be achieved by students who demonstrate a critical knowledge of the subject, who are able to apply theoretical concepts to practical examples, make use of an appropriate language and make well thought out connections among the different argument discussed in class.

Mostly mnemonic knowledge, limited abilities of synthesis and analysis and imprecise language lead to grades ranging from discrete to sufficient. Important gaps, inappropriate language, lack of an overview of the topics covered will inevitably lead to a barely adequate grade or to a negative evaluation.

Teaching tools

Ppt. presentations, video, charts, pictures, drawing, photos, published articles, books, thin section for mineralogical analysis, bulk samples, blackboard, learning games

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Bonazza

See the website of Cristina Sabbioni


Sustainable cities Climate Action Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.