May 19, 2022

REALM Project (REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) Releases Test 5 Results and Literature Review Findings

From the REALM Project:

As part of the REALM project’s research, Battelle has conducted five natural attenuation studies on how long the infectious virus may survive on materials common to archives, libraries, and museums. Spread via contact with contaminated objects (also called fomites) is not currently believed to be the primary cause of COVID-19 infection, but additional research is needed to better understand this route of transmission. The studies were conducted by applying virulent SARS-CoV-2 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 5 included the following items*

Item Material type Use
Leather book cover Leather (circa 1861) Hardcover book covering
Synthetic leather Expanded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Upholstery
Polyolefin fabric 100% polyolefin Upholstery
Cotton fabric 100% cotton fabric Upholstery, toys, costumes
Nylon webbing Nylon weave Crowd control barrier

*The leather bookbinding was provided by private donation, the nylon webbing was provided by the American Museum of Natural History, and the other items were procured from vendors.

The results of the fifth round of testing were released on October 14, 2020.

Read the Full Test 5 Results
5 pages; PDF.

Systematic Literature Review Findings

Also available is a review of SARS-CoV-2 research published through mid-August 2020, which summarizes current research on how the virus spreads, its survival on materials and surfaces, and the effectiveness of various prevention and decontamination measures.

The new findings highlight the growing evidence that the virus is most commonly spread between people in close contact and through virus-containing respiratory droplets, and that aerosols may be a contributor to infection. Additional details regarding the effectiveness of social distancing, masks, fresh air, UV light, and hand washing are provided as well. The findings underscore the fact that there remain some critical “known unknowns” about COVID-19, including (1) how much virus is needed to infect someone, (2) how much virus an infected person sheds, and (3) whether people are getting infected by touching objects and surfaces.

Direct to Access Systematic Literature Review (Full Text and Spreadsheets)

Direct to All Previously Published Test Results (1-4) and Supporting Documentation

Direct to REALM Project Homepage

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.