As part of the REALM project’s research, Battelle has conducted three natural attenuation studies to provide information on how long the virus may survive on materials common to archives, libraries, and museums. The studies were conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus on five materials held at standard room temperature (68°F to 75°F) and relative humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent). The materials in Test 3 included the following items:
|Talking book, USB cassette*||Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), specific blend||Cartridges are used in talking book readers available through the National Library Services for the Blind and Disabled|
|DVD**||Polycarbonate||Digital data storage (also includes CDs). Note: A polypropylene DVD case was tested in Test 1|
|Storage bag (flexible plastic)**||Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), recycling #4||Storage, library and museum kits, gift shop packaging|
|Storage container (rigid plastic)**||High-density polyethylene (HDPE), recycling #2||Transporting and storage of items|
|Plexiglass***||Acrylic||Display cases, partitions|
Items 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 on top of a stainless steel rack. In contrast to Test 2, these items were not tested in a nested (or stacked) configuration to mimic common operating procedures.
Results show that after five days of quarantine in an unstacked configuration, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detected on the storage bag (flexible plastic) or the DVD. The storage container (rigid plastic), plexiglass, and the USB cassette all showed detectable virus at five days. Day five was the final timepoint tested.
Compared to the results of Test 1 and 2, this data suggests that a slightly longer quarantine time for these types of plastic-based materials may be required to render SARS-CoV-2 undetectable through natural attenuation alone. Alternatively, based on the materials’ nonporous nature, suitable liquid disinfection methods may promote a more rapid decontamination than the quarantine method.*
*The CDC and EPA provide general cleaning and disinfecting guidance. Some cleaning agents and disinfection solutions may damage surfaces and materials; see, for example, exhibit and collection cleaning guidance from the National Park Service.