As part of the REALM project’s Phase 1 research, Battelle has conducted a natural attenuation study to provide information on how long some commonly handled materials would need to be quarantined prior to being returned to being put back into use. Testing was conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) on five materials held at standard room temperature and humidity conditions (Download Test Plan [PDF]). The materials tested included the following items, which were provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress*; Columbus Metropolitan Library**; and the National Archives and Records Administration***:
Samples from each item were inoculated and placed inside the closed book or magazine. The items were then configured to mimic common storage conditions such as stacked or shelved books, or a pile of folders or magazines. (In Test 1, the items were not stacked.)
Results show that after two days of quarantine in a stacked configuration, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the archival folders.
After four days of quarantine in their stacked configuration, the virus was not detectable on the braille pages, glossy book pages, and board book.
The magazine pages showed a trace amount of virus at four days. Day four was the final timepoint tested.
The evaluation demonstrates that standard office temperature (68°F to 75°F; 22±2°C) and relative humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent) provide an environment that allows for the natural attenuation of SARS-CoV-2 present on these materials after two days of quarantine for archival folders and four days of quarantine for the book pages. Compared to the results of Test 1, the results of Test 2 indicate that a slightly longer quarantine time for some types of cellulose-based paper materials sitting in a stacked configuration may be required to render SARS-CoV-2 undetectable.
Testing of additional materials is underway. The details of items being tested in sets 4 and 5, as well the results of Test Set 3, are expected by early August.