By now, you are aware of the fact that cleanliness is the only way to get rid of the coronavirus. Even if you are isolated safely inside the comfort of your home, there are a few things you should be aware of. A new research out of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the novel coronavirus HCoV-19 can survive on plastic, stainless steel and cardboard surfaces, among other things. While it can’t survive forever, there is still a considerable amount of time that you should be aware of, especially if you are someone who handles boxes all day.
The research, conducted by U.S. government scientists from multiple organizations as well as UCLA and Princeton, looked at materials such as: air, plastic, cardboard and stainless steel. The study yielded promising results, which will help us better understand and avoid being contaminated.
Air: Up to 3 hours
The new study, which was published last Friday, explains that the viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to 3 hours post aerosolization. Scientists consider this as good news since the previous predictions were that the virus could last for over a week on surfaces.
Copper: Up to 4 hours
Conversely, the virus does not last long on copper. During the study, researchers found that all traces of it were gone after just four hours on the conductive metal. Even so, it’s important to clean copper doorknobs or handles that come in regular contact.
Cardboard: Up to 24 hours
The virus’ ability to hang around on cardboard is six times more than that of copper. While you might be extremely pleased to receive your online purchases, it is extremely important to handle them safely. During the study, researchers exposed cardboard to the virus and were surprised to see that it was capable of hanging onto the material for a whole day. At the same time researchers caution that work done in the lab may not directly reflect how long the virus can hang around on surfaces out in the world since temperature and other dynamics can play a huge role.
It however, is a critical part of understanding how the virus works and gives us time to take necessary steps to limit cross-contamination. That being said, if your delivery person is coughing all over that box on the way to your doorstep, it might be troublesome for you.
Plastic (Polypropylene): Up to 2-3 days
The new study confirms what we already know, that is to do what we can to disinfect surfaces frequently; especially plastic surfaces, and to wash our hands. And the good thing about plastic is that it is easy to clean. For instance, if you are someone who works in an office, then make sure to sanitize things that are often touched such as the keyboard, mouse, binders, staplers, pens and everything that you need to complete your work. Polypropylene is used in a wide variety of product packaging and labeling as well as a number of household items, medical supplies and even clothing.
Stainless Steel: Up to 2-3 days
Of all the materials, the virus has the longest lifespan when it comes in contact with stainless steel. During the study, when researchers exposed the virus to stainless steel, they observed that its concentration was greatly reduced over time but there was still a significant amount present 2-3 days after exposure. So, if you have to use elevators or come in contact with products made of stainless steel such as escalators, kitchenware, refrigerators, freezers, countertops and dishwashers, make sure to use hand sanitizer. Also make sure to wipe the surfaces clean, just to be safe.
The research was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH); the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP, RC-2635) of the U.S. Department of Defense.
In short, take measures to disinfect your house as well as your belongings, and make it difficult for the microbes to thrive.