The REALM project research includes two key components: reviews of the scientific literature and studies to provide information on how long the virus can survive on materials common to archives, libraries, and museums. Reviews of the scientific literature are designed to evaluate existing research about SARS-CoV-2 that may pertain to the materials, physical settings, and operations of these institutions. These areas of inquiry include how the virus is transmitted, how to mitigate its spread, and the impacts of vaccines and variants.
All REALM project materials are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 license.
July 22, 2021
This briefing covers research published through July 5, 2021, on COVID-19 vaccines, SARS-CoV-2 variants, and ventilation that may help inform local decision making.
July 1, 2021
This briefing covers research published through June 14, 2021, on COVID-19 vaccines, SARS-CoV-2 variants, and ventilation that may help inform local decision making.
June 10, 2021
This briefing covers research published through May 17, 2021, on COVID-19 vaccines, SARS-CoV-2 variants, and ventilation that may help inform local decision making.
May 20, 2021
This briefing covers research published through April 26, 2021, on COVID-19 vaccines, SARS-CoV-2 variants, and ventilation that may help inform local decision making.
April 20, 2021
This briefing covers research published through March 15, 2021 on COVID-19 vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 variants that may help inform local LAM decision making
March 5, 2021
This third systematic literature review summarizes research published through November 2020 on how the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads, its survival on materials and surfaces, and the effectiveness of various prevention and decontamination measures.
See also: Key takeaways from Phase 2 and 3 literature reviews (visual aid)
October 14, 2020
This second systematic literature review summarizes research on SARS-CoV-2 published between mid-May and mid-August 2020 on how the virus spreads, the lifespan of of the virus on materials, and effectiveness of various prevention and decontamination measures.
See also: Key takeaways from Phase 2 literature review (visual aid)
June 17, 2020
A detailed literature review exploring the scientific research on SARS-CoV-2 published through mid-May 2020.
June 3, 2020
The information helps to set the context for the Battelle laboratory research conducted during Phases 1 and 2 of the REALM project.
June 3, 2020
Describes how the Battelle laboratory tested for the longevity of the COVID-19 virus on materials and how long it takes for the virus to naturally attenuate—essentially, how long the material needs to be left alone before the virus is undetectable.
As part of the REALM research, Battelle conducted eight natural attenuation studies to provide information on how long the SARS-CoV-2 virus may survive on materials common to archives, libraries, and museums. Below are the results of tests completed between June 2020 and February 2021.
Explore a sortable table of complete research test results for the REALM project
Get answers to frequently asked questions about research results
22 June 2020
Five items commonly found in public libraries, which are also in high circulation and expected to arrive back in public libraries in large volumes, were selected for Test 1. The materials were provided by Columbus Metropolitan Library.
|Hardback book cover||Buckram book cover||Testing was conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus on five materials held at standard room temperature and humidity conditions. Items were laid flat.||Results show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the materials after three days of quarantine.|
|Softback book cover||Trade paperback|
|Plain paper pages inside a closed book||--|
|Plastic book covering||Biaxially oriented polyester film|
20 July 2020
Materials were provided by Columbus Metropolitan Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress.
|Archival folders||--||Stacked||Results show that after two days of quarantine, the virus was not detectable on the archival folders. After four days of quarantine, the virus was not detectable on the braille pages, glossy book pages, and board book. The magazine showed a trace amount of virus at four days. Day four was the final timepoint tested.|
|Glossy pages||As found in coffee table books||Stacked|
|Children’s board book||--||Stacked, tested inside the book|
18 August 2020
For Test 3, five plastic-based items were selected. The materials were provided by Columbus Metropolitan Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress.
|DVD||Polycarbonate||Unstacked||Results show that after five days of quarantine the virus was not detectable on the storage bag or the DVD. The storage container, plexiglass, and the USB cassette all showed recoverable virus at five days. Day five was the final timepoint tested.|
|Storage bag||Flexible plastic: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), recycling #4||Unstacked|
|USB cassette||Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, specific blend||Unstacked|
|Storage container||Rigid plastic: High-density polyethylene (HDPE), recycling #2||Unstacked|
|Plexiglass||Acrylic display cases and partitions||Unstacked|
2 September 2020
Four of the five items in Test 4 are similar book materials to Test 1, but in Test 4, these items were stacked to simulate their common storage configuration in bins and book drops and on shelves. The fifth item, expanded polyethylene foam, has not been tested previously and was done so in open-air conditions.
A visual comparing the stacked to unstacked materials is available.
|DVD/CD case||Polypropylene||Stacked||Results show that after six days of quarantine the SARS-CoV-2 virus was still detected on all five materials tested. When compared to Test 1, which resulted in nondetectable virus after three days on an unstacked hardcover book, softcover book, plastic protective cover, and DVD case, the results of Test 4 highlight the effect of stacking and its ability to prolong the survivability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.|
|Hardcover book cover||Buckram cloth||Stacked|
|Softcover book cover||Trade paperback||Stacked|
|Plastic protective cover||Biaxially oriented polyester film||Stacked|
|Expanded polyethylene foam||1-inch thickness||Unstacked, open air|
14 October 2020
For Test 5, four fabrics and leather—materials commonly used for bookbinding, upholstery, and crowd control—were selected. The materials were provided by the American Museum of National History, a private donation and through procurement from vendors.
|Leather book cover||Leather (circa 1861)||Unstacked||Results show that after eight days of quarantine, SARS-CoV-2 virus was still detected on leather and synthetic leather materials. For the polyolefin fabric and nylon webbing, only the amount of virus after the initial 1 hour of drying time could be measured. No data for the cotton fabric could be collected or reported.|
|Synthetic leather||Expanded polyvinyl chloride (PVC)||Unstacked|
|Polyolefin fabric||100% polyolefin||Unstacked|
|Cotton fabric||100% cotton||Unstacked|
|Nylon webbing||Nylon weave||Unstacked|
19 November 2020
For Test 6, five materials commonly found in furnishings and exhibits of archives, libraries, and museums, were selected. The materials were provided by the National Park Service, Metropolitan New York Library Council, the Library of Congress and from vendors.
|Glass||Glass||Windows, doors, display cases||Results show that after two days, SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the brass and marble. After six days, virus was not detected on the glass, laminate, and powder-coated steel.|
|Marble||Danby marble||Flooring, counters, columns|
|Laminate||Laminate with particle board backing||Countertops|
|Brass||260 brass||Fixtures, railings|
|Powder-coated steel||Powder-coated steel||Lockers, shelving, book trucks, exhibit elements|
|Hardcover book cover||Buckram cloth||Stacked||Results show that attenuation rates for materials held at the colder temperature were significantly slower compared to the warmer and ambient temperatures.|
|Softcover book cover||Coated paper||Stacked|
|Plastic protective cover||Biaxially oriented polyester film||Stacked|
|Expanded polyethylene foam||1-in. polyethylene foam||Unstacked|