An interesting phenomenon currently presented is how documents printed more then 100 years ago are better preserved then those from more recent times. This is highly due to the evolving composition of the paper.
Upon discovery of the factor the printing industry has made changes to improved their papers—One of the most prominent changes was made by neutralizing and eliminating the acid from being present in the paper, which considerably improve the lifespan of a paper.
Papers can also be basic, or have an alkaline base, which helps neutralize any acids absorbed from the environment. From the time a paper leaves the factory to the time it ends up being stored in the correct conditions, it is exposed to many potential sources of acid. Air pollutants, glues, papers with acid in them and human hands all contain pollution and can lead to the degradation of paper. Integrating an alkaline base to the papers help neutralize any acid it absorbs. This allows libraries and museums to treat their existing papers and make them last much longer.
A key component of negating damage to prints is proper storage, although this is not necessarily related to the acid content, by properly storing prints you can increase its longevity. For more information on proper storage of prints, check out our article on how to properly store prints.
Acid free paper has allowed prints to reach unprecedented life spans and when combined with a high quality giclee print from an inkjet printer, it can lead to higher quality, long lasting prints.