REALM Project Reveals Coronavirus Detected on Leather and Synthetic Leather After Eight Days

As experts continue to try to learn more about the coronavirus and transmission, the REALM Project reports on results of the fifth round of testing library materials.

The REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project released results from its fifth round of testing, which shows the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can be detected after eight days on leather and synthetic leather.

A leatherbound book from 1861, donated for
testing from a private collection. Photo courtesy: Batelle

Test 5 also tested cotton, nylon webbing, and polyolefin fabric. All materials were unstacked.

Samples from each item were inoculated and then allowed to dry. The items were then examined two, four, six, and eight days after an initial evaluation. Day eight was the final point tested.

“For the polyolefin fabric and nylon webbing, only the amount of virus after the initial 1 hour of drying time could be measured: fewer than 131 particles detected on the polyolefin and fewer than 655 on the nylon webbing. No data for the cotton fabric could be collected or reported,” according to the report.

The REALM project, supported by Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funding, is a multi-phase research project designed to give librarians information to create an evidence-based protocol for safety when reopening during the continued threat of the novel coronavirus.

While the effort places science and evidence at the forefront, there are still many unknowns about the virus and its transmission.

“These findings contribute to the evolving scientific understanding regarding SARS-CoV-2, which still includes uncertainties about: how much virus is shed by an infected person through coughing, sneezing, talking, breathing, etc; how much virus is needed to infect someone; and the likelihood of a person becoming infected indirectly through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces (‘fomites’),” the test report said.

Read the full IMLS press release below.


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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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