Damien Hirst Cleared Of Formaldehyde Gate Controversy At Tate Retrospective




Back in April 2016 we reported that Damien Hirst’s 2012 Tate gallery retrospective may have leaked dangerous fumes from the various tanks exhibited, which could have caused a health hazard. A research paper from the Royal Society of Chemistry journal detailed the display and reportedly found that the preserved artworks “Away From The Flock” and “Mother And Child Divided”, leaked potentially dangerous levels of formaldehyde, whilst displayed at London’s Tate Modern gallery, over a five month period in 2012. Atmospheric levels reportedly reached up to 5ppm (parts per million) – ten times over the advisory limit. This report has now been discredited by Hirst’s own report and one of the authors of the original study has now retracted his conclusion.

The latest results state that there was “never any risk to the public”, as was alleged. It has led Prof Pier Giorgio Righetti – one of the authors of the paper published in April in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analytical Methods Journal – to acknowledge his paper was “inaccurate and unreliable”.

A spokesperson for Science Ltd and Prof Righetti said the professor “regret any alarm or concern the paper may have caused the discrepancy’ They also said, Hirst “cooperated” to conduct further tests on his works following April’s report. which all showed formaldehyde readings lower than 0.1 ppm (parts per million). The recommended maximum exposure level under legislation is 2 ppm. “The cause of the discrepancy with the readings published in the paper was identified and it was agreed that there cannot have been formaldehyde present at the dangerously high levels originally cited,” the spokesperson stated.

Prof Pier Giorgio Righetti – one of the authors of the paper published in April in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analytical Methods Journal – to acknowledge his paper was “inaccurate and unreliable”. A spokesperson for Science Ltd and Prof Righetti said the professor “regretted any alarm or concern the paper may have caused.

They added Hirst “cooperated” to conduct further tests on his works following April’s report. which all showed formaldehyde readings lower than 0.1 ppm (parts per million). The recommended maximum exposure level under legislation is 2 ppm. “The cause of the discrepancy with the readings published in the paper was identified and it was agreed that there cannot have been formaldehyde present at the dangerously high levels originally cited,” the spokesperson said.

Photo: P C Robinson © artlyst 2016


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