Liquid Chalk Is an Antiseptic against SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A Respiratory Viruses

mSphere. 2021 Jun 16;6(3):e0031321. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00313-21. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted and enforced significant restrictions within our societies, including the attendance of public and professional athletes in gyms. Liquid chalk is a commonly used accessory in gyms and is comprised of magnesium carbonate and alcohol that quickly evaporates on the hands to leave a layer of dry chalk. We investigated whether liquid chalk is an antiseptic against highly pathogenic human viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza virus, and noroviruses. Chalk was applied before or after virus, inoculum and recovery of infectious virus was determined to mimic the use in the gym. We observed that addition of chalk before or after virus contact led to a significant reduction in recovery of infectious SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus but had little impact on norovirus. These observations suggest that the use and application of liquid chalk can be an effective and suitable antiseptic for major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games. IMPORTANCE To restrict the potential transmission and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2, the use of liquid chalk has been a requirement in an active gym setting. However, its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven. Here, we show that the application of liquid chalk before or after virus inoculum significantly impacts recovery of infectious SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses but not noroviruses. Thus, our study has shown that the implementation and application of liquid chalk in communal social gym settings is effective in reducing the infectivity of respiratory viruses, and this supports the use of liquid chalk in major sporting events to restrict the impact of COVID-19 on our communities.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; alcohol; antiseptic; influenza A virus; norovirus; noroviruses.