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Abstract

This paper reviews the long-term effects of past, present and future air pollution and climate on the decay of stones from historic buildings. It summarizes the historical effects as well as causes and consequences of damage. The most significant change in terms of pollution has been a shift from high levels of sulphate deposition from coal burning to a blackening process dominated by diesel soot and nitrogen deposition from vehicular sources in cities. Blackening of light-coloured fabric eventually reaches a point where it becomes publicly unacceptable. Public opinion can assist the development of aesthetic thresholds and derive limit values for elemental carbon in urban air. Public perception is also affected by the pattern of blackening. This century new climate regimes will cause dramatic changes in blackening patterns by winddriven rain. Climate changes, most particularly changes in temperature, humidity stress and time of wetness, can also affect the weathering of stone in terms of responses to frost and soluble salts. Future pollution and climate are relevant considerations in the management of historic buildings.

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