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About ICP Materials

The International Co-operative Programme on Effects on Materials, including Historic and Cultural Monuments (ICP Materials) started in 1985. It was initiated in order to provide a scientific basis for new protocols and regulations developed within the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

Here you will find a description of aims and objectives of ICP Materials as well as a short overview of the main results of the programme, dose-response functions, trends, UNESCO case studies and contribution to the Mapping Manual.


Perform a quantitative evaluation (dose-response functions) of the effects of multi-pollutants such as S and N compounds, O3 and particles as well as climate parameters on the atmospheric corrosion and soiling of important materials, including materials used in objects of cultural heritage.

Describe and evaluate long-term corrosion and soiling trends attributable to atmospheric pollution in order to elucidate the environmental effects of pollutant reductions achieved under the Convention and in order to identify extraordinary environmental changes that result in unpredicted materials damage.

Use the results for policy purposes for the benefit of the Convention by i.a. mapping areas with increased risk of corrosion and soiling and for calculation of cost of damage caused by deterioration of materials.


In order to produce dose-response functions and elucidate trends, ICP Materials maintain and develop a network of atmospheric corrosion field exposure test sites. Corrosion attack and soiling of standard materials are evaluated after exposure on racks at the test site and environmental data are collected at or close to the test sites as described in the ICP Materials Technical Manual.

UNESCO cultural heritage sites are considered of outstanding universal value and are therefore ideal for illustration and dissemination of effects on materials. Case studies include general description of the site and the corrosivity of the environment, determination of stock of materials at risk, economic evaluation and the relationship between the environment and the artefact.

Finally, an important objective for ICP Material is to participate in regular updates of the Manual on Methodologies and Criteria for Modelling and Mapping Critical Loads and Levels and Air Pollution Effects, Risks and Trends.

Dose-response functions

A dose-response function links the dose of pollution, measured in ambient concentration and/or deposition, to the rate of material corrosion or soiling. The dose/response functions constitute the main results of the programme and are of utmost importance for development of systems for classification of corrosivity of environments, for mapping of areas with increased risk of corrosion, and for calculation of cost of damage caused by deterioration of materials. Two sets of dose-response functions have been developed so far.

Dose-response functions for the SO2 dominating situation are available for many materials in unsheltered and sheltered position after 8 years of exposure (1987-1995) as described in (1). Functions for weathering steel, zinc, aluminum, copper, bronze, limstone, sandstone, painted galvanised steel and painted steel are also available in the official mapping manual.

Dose-response functions for the multi-pollutant situation are available after 4 years of exposure (1997-2001) as described in (2). Functions for carbon steel, zinc, bronze and limestone are also available in the official mapping manual.

Dose-response functions for soiling are not yet available in the official mapping manual.

1. Tidblad J, Kucera V, Mikhailov A A, Henriksen J, Kreislova K, Yates T, Stöckle B and Schreiner M (2001)
UN ECE ICP Materials. Dose-response functions on dry and wet acid deposition effects after 8 years of exposure
Water, air and soil pollution, 130(1-4 III), 1457-1462

2. Kucera V, Tidblad J, Kreislova K, Knokova D, Faller M, Reiss D, Snethlage R, Yates T, Henriksen J, Schreiner M, Melcher M, Ferm M, Lefèvre R-A and Kobus J (2007)
UN ECE ICP materials dose-response functions for the multi-pollutant situation
Water, Air, and Soil Pollution Focus, 7(1-3), 249-258


Results from repeated exposures of materials with the purpose of evaluating simultaneous trends in corrosion and environment was first reported in 1995 for the period 1987-1993 (Report 19) and has since 2002 been performed each third year and reported continously. A summary of trends during the period 1987-2012 was included in the UNECE report Trends in Ecosystem and health responses to long-range transported atmospheric pollutants.

Trends in one and four year data during the period 1987-2015 was published in 2017 (open access). Even though depending on both material and location, corrosion overall has decreased substantially to around 50% of the original values measured in 1987. In recent years, however, the improvements in corrosion and soiling are minor.

The differences between polluted and non-polluted areas are not as high as in the 1980’s, but are still significant.

UNESCO case studies

In 2015, ICP Materials finalized the last concluding part IV of the first “Pilot study on inventory and conditions of stock of materials at risk at five UNESCO cultural heritage sites”:

  • Greece, Athens, Acropolis, (The Parthenon)
  • France, Paris, The Facades in the Centre of City
  • Czech Republic, Prague, The National Library
  • Germany, Berlin, The New Museum
  • UK, Bath, Royal Crescent.

The UNESCO study is presented in four individual ICP Materials reports during the period 2011–2015: I Methodology (Report 68); II Determination of stock of materials at risk for individual monuments (Report 70); III Economic evaluation (Report 73); and IV The relationship between the environment and the artefact (Report 77).

To initiate more pilot studies ICP Materials has launched a Call for data on the inventory and condition of stock of materials at UNESCO cultural heritage sites 2015-2017.

Mapping Manual

The Manual on Methodologies and Criteria for Modelling and Mapping Critical Loads and Levels and Air Pollution Effects, Risks and Trends provides harmonised indicators to assess the impacts of acidification, eutrophication, ozone and particulate matter on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, crops or building materials.

For materials the approach is based on acceptable levels and the manual gives dose-response functions and procedures for

  • mapping areas with elevated risk of corrosion;
  • performing inventories of stock of materials at risk;
  • calculation of corrosion costs.

The entire manual (2004 version as well as draft 2014 version) can be downloaded from ICP Modelling and Mapping including Chapter IV Mapping effects on materials (2014 version). The new version is under development including soiling effect (final update 2021 version).

Johan Tidblad

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Johan Tidblad


+46 73 512 56 82

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