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Phase One of the study can be described in terms of planning and implementation and has distinct tasks associated with each activity. Planning activities included the choice of:

  • Cleaners,
  • Cemeteries,
  • Headstones, and
  • Evaluation methods for change in appearance and biological activity.

Implementation of the plan included

  • visiting each cemetery,
  • identifying and documenting headstones in sunny and shady locations within each cemetery,
  • taking selected headstones out of regular maintenance cycles,
  • making initial biological swabs for each headstone to establish baseline biological activity,
  • making color measurements at each test patch to establish initial appearance,
  • cleaning test patches on each headstone with each of the cleaners,
  • monitoring the change in appearance through photographs and color measurements over time,
  • monitoring biological re-growth through biological testing over time, and
  • evaluating the data.

Phase One of the study began April 13, 2005 with a meeting of the partners held in the ASAE building at 1575 Eye Street, Washington, DC. Attendees at the meeting included Sarah Amy Leach, Karen Ashton, and Dave Schettler from NCA and Mary Striegel from NCPTT. Jason Church (NCPTT) and ElizaBeth Guin (Northwestern State University) participated by conference call. The purpose of the meeting was the selection of cleaning products and the identification of cemeteries to include in the study.

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One Response to Comparative Study of Commercially Available Cleaners for Use on Federally-Issued Headstones

  1. Nancy Scheer says:

    June 22, 2010

    I am interested in knowing if anyone has done any investigation into the affect of wet grass & weeds, thrown by lawn mowers onto tombstones?
    Does this cause some of the biological growths we see on tombstones?
    I see this often in cemeteries particularily when the grass has been cut early in the morning while it is still wet.

    Is there any data & results showing a “diluted solution of ammonia” for cleaning tombstones? I believe I read where it is not very effective on biological growth, but is it a recommended product for general cleaning of headstones?

    When using D2 do the rules apply that say only clean tombstones once every 10+ yrs? Where did this rule come from? I just read it on one of the National Preservations of tombstones sites. Is there data to back this rule?

    Has there been any conclusion to the National Cemetery Headstone Cleaning Project and if so where can I find the results?

    Thank you for any consideration you give to these questions.

    Nancy Scheer
    (a volunteer tombstone cleaner in Missouri)

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