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Study: Climbing Chalk Appears to Halt Coronavirus

As gyms around the country tentatively re-open, whether outdoors or indoors with reduced capacity, climbing gyms have set rules about mask and chalk use to combat any spread of the coronavirus in their buildings.

A new study from the UK’s De Montfort University shows, however, that climbing chalk breaks deactivates the virus.

Researchers used a substitute coronavirus, closely related to the virus that causes COVID-19 in the study. They put samples of the virus on plastic meant to mimic climbing holds. Some of the plastic was dusted with climbing chalk, and some was left clean as a control. The plastic with chalk saw a 99% reduction of virus within one hour.

“We are really pleased that the findings of our study suggest that chalk powder inactivates the infectivity of the virus and is therefore unlikely to harbour coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2,” said virologist Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar, who participated in the study.

“It looks like chalk is a friend and not a foe and this should provide some comfort to any customers who are worried that chalk could harbour the virus,” said Rich Emerson, Chair of the Association of British Climbing Walls. “We look forward to the peer review and publication of the study which we know are critical parts of this work.”

A paper based on the study will be peer reviewed later this year.

Photo: Abbottportraits/CC

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