n.the decomposition of paper due to moisture absorbed from surroundingsPlenderleith and Werner 1955, 197Cellulose is subject to a form of chemical attack known as hydrolysis. This reaction occurs if acid is present in very small amounts, and it is also catalytic, i.e. the acid is not consumed during the hydrolysis; the smallest amounts of acid can produce extensive hydrolysis. This chemical attack results in a degradation of the cellulose molecule; mechanical strength is lost and the paper becomes brittle and fragile.Smith 1966, 273A major cause of paper deterioration over prolonged periods is identified as the acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of the cellulose in paper fibers.Ritzenthaler 2010, 97High humidity accelerates such chemical reactions as acid hydrolysis, which breaks down the molecular structure of paper.Ritzenthaler 2010, 377Hydrolysis: Chemical action involving water. Decomposition in which a compound is split into other compounds by taking up the elements of water. Reaction that occurs during deterioration of cellulose and other organic materials, facilitated by heat and low pH.
As a result of hydrolysis, paper becomes hard and brittle. The process is accelerated in acid environments.