Get the Straps Right

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Both the hydrochloric acid released by the breakdown of the PVC, and the stabilizers, plasticizers and other additives used In the PVC materials, pose threats to the preservation of photographs stored in such photograph albums or scrapbooks. Under appropriate conditions, these agents are capable of leaving the straps and interacting with the photographs, thereby potentially discoloring those photographs. Mizen, M. B.; Agbor, C. N. Strap for photograph album and scrapbook, EP1307348A4, January 24, 2007.

An Open Letter: How to Make a High Quality Album describes how to make an album that will last. The first requirement is no PVC.

The original plastic strap used in Webway and early Creative Memories scrapbooks was made from PVC. It was a convenient material that had been selected because it was low-cost and relatively durable. Unfortunately, the PVC straps would react with photos on the first or last page over time. The problem was particularly evident with professional photos. In addition, returned albums frequently showed brown spots on the straps due to the plasticizer in the PVC, which supported fungal growth.

After an exhaustive search of various materials, we replaced the PVC straps selected with photo-safe polyethylene containing an ENGAGE additive to maintain flexibility. This discovery was patented in Europe, Canada, and China, but, these patents do not appear to be currently in effect. In the U.S., the patent was not allowed. Consequently, all manufacturers companies are free to use these or other similar materials.

April 23, 2014: I do not have the exact date when Creative Memories changed the material for their straps, but it was prior to June 2001.

June 23, 2014: Youngevity’s Our Memories For Life albums use PVC for their straps; yet the albums are supposedly “100% photo-safe and archival.”

December 10, 2014: According to Our Memories for Life, their straps are now manufactured from DuPont Hytrel, which does not contain PVC.

About Mark Mizen

At Creative Memories, I evaluate photographic products and related materials so that today's memories are not lost to the future and then communicate this information to Creative Memories Consultants and their customers. My interests extend from preservation of traditional photographs to the production of photo books to the expected longevity of electronic image files. My long-term objective is to direct the development of technology that meets consumers needs for high-quality products.
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23 Responses to Get the Straps Right

  1. Melissa says:

    Is this an FYI or do you know of any albums with PV straps?

    • Mark Mizen says:

      This is an informational article about photo safety. I do not know what materials the various companies that offer strap hinge albums are currently using for their straps.

  2. is there anyplace to buy replacement straps for our really old albums?

  3. So do we know what materials were used by CM in the last 10 years? What about the Ahni & Zoe albums? It would be interesting to see what the strap material is for the Our Memories For Life albums. Anyone know?

    • Mark Mizen says:

      I do not have a specific date when Creative Memories switched to polyethylene for their straps, but it was prior to June 2001. I assume Ahni and Zoe is still using this material, but you would need to contact them and ask them what material they are using for their straps to be certain.

  4. Elizabeth Keller says:

    Is there any way to kill the fungal spots. Some of my earlier albums and those of customers are showing evidence of “the spots”!

  5. Dawn says:

    That is extremely disappointing. If a company claims their albums are “100% photo-safe and archival” yet uses PVC, I cannot believe any other claims they make about the safety of their products. I will not be purchasing from OMFL.

    • Penny says:

      How can you buy any scrapbooking supplies then? I don’t know of any scrapbooking company that test their own products anymore. They all rely on what their manufacturers tell them. We really don’t know if any product produced by any company is safe anymore. If you use anything from the local scrapbook store that isn’t necessarily safe either.

  6. Debbie says:

    How did you come across this informationa and how did you verify it?

    • Mark Mizen says:

      I did not test an actual strap, but I spoke with someone who had. I had suspected that the strap was PVC from its appearance in the photographs I had seen.

      • Trinity says:

        Can we see the results of those tests, please?

      • Mark Mizen says:

        I am sorry but I am not in a position to provide specific test results at this time.

      • Trinity says:

        In that case, would it not be prudent to withhold assertions as to their composition until you can be sure? Do I understand correctly that you yourself have not yet seen one of the albums, but only photographs?

      • Mark Mizen says:

        Test results, which support my original statements have now been posted. The straps contain PVC or a similar equally harmful material.

  7. terhar says:

    If you cannot provide specific test results and “proof” of your claim, how can we believe what you are saying??

  8. Pingback: It’s a Blog | All About Images Blog

  9. Pingback: Our Memories for Life Albums Not Photo-Safe | All About Images Blog

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