Curran says her method will need refinement, but it already appears to be an improvement on existing options. “The potential for this is that you could catch these processes at an earlier stage, before the damage is so visually problematic that the artifact has lost its significance,” she says. By using an atmospheric strip test instead of a sample, this smell-based test bypasses potentially-damaging samples and keeps the art intact. And understanding the conditions and rate of decay for various plastics could lead to better storage in the first place, too. If Curran can crack the code, then only the most sensitive objects would be put into energy-intensive, climatically-controlled storage, saving museums time, money, and carbon emissions.