Thousands of artifacts sitting in museums right now are covered with dangerous chemicals such as mercury and arsenic, High Country News reports. More than 80% of tribal relics gathered in the United States during the 1800s and 1900s were coated with these pesticides to protect them from rodents, roaches, and decay. Now, researchers are looking into new techniques to clean up the mess and allow people to handle them. One method uses a combination of water and a slew of other base and acidic chemicals to draw out the elements.
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