As part of the REALM project’s research, Battelle has begun a natural attenuation study to examine how colder and warmer temperatures may impact survivability of the infectious COVID-19 virus on surfaces. Tests 7 and 8 study materials that were previously tested at temperatures between 68 to 72°F (22 ±2°C). Spread of the virus via contaminated objects (also called fomites) is not currently believed to be a primary method of transmission, but additional research is needed to better understand this route of transmission. After the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus is applied to samples from each of four materials, one set will be held at a cold temperature (35.6 ±3.6°F; 2 ±2°C) and the other at a warmer temperature (84.2 ±3.6°F; 29 ±2°C). Both will be held at standard relative humidity of 40 ±10 percent.
The materials in Tests 7 and 8 include the following items:
The hardcover book, softcover book and plastic protective cover were provided by Columbus Metropolitan Library, and the expanded polyethylene foam was provided by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Based on findings from the project’s literature reviews, the researchers expect the test results will show slower attenuation at cold temperatures and faster attenuation at warm temperatures. The cold test will be evaluated for the presence of virus on days 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. The warm test will be evaluated on days 0, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. The results of the tests can help staff at libraries, archives, and museums consider the impact of environmental conditions on any policies and procedures for quarantine or disinfection.
The results of the tests are expected to be published in mid-February 2021.