The text below contains clear, detailed, actionable steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).   This information was graciously contributed by Thiago Piwowarczyk.  Mr. Piwowarczyk is a trained chemist and Art Forensics Expert, and a principal partner at New York Art Forensics.

Prevent the spread of coronavirus: 17 steps to Covid-19 control

Due to the persistence of misconceptions and pseudo-scientific information I decided to give my take on precautions and procedures to follow during the Coronavirus pandemic. This information is compiled from what is consensus regarding biology and chemistry, EPA, CDC, EPA, OPCW, and BWC.  I am trained as a chemist and worked with chemical analysis and biochemistry. My name is Thiago Assan Piwowarczyk and this is version 1.0 of this message (March, Friday 13th, 2020).

1. Keep yourself informed but be selective with the information. Be skeptical of unnamed sources, especially if those downplay danger or instigated panic. Your standard should be instructions by the World Health Organization, not a private news outlet, even if it matches your political bias. Share only information you are sure came from a reputable source.

2. Follow common sense. Biological contamination follows the simple logic that something that is contaminated may potentially contaminate anything it has contact with. Things used to protect from contamination are, by this logic, potentially contaminated. e.g.: face masks and gloves should be treated as if their outer layer is contaminated during use, and should not be touched on their outer surfaces. A glove should be worn with the sleeve unrolled so it is easy to pick it without touching the skin while taking it off by the other hand still in the glove. The ungloved (uncontaminated) hand then can scoop the second glove under the sleeve to remove it without touching the outer layer. COVID-19 virus generally survives when embedded in saliva and sweat droplets, fats and oils (from skin touch, grime, and grease) or other biologically compatible materials such as makeup and wet foods for instance. DO NOT touch your face, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands.

3. Masks can be helpful only when used properly. Improper use may be more harmful as the mask act as a receptacle accumulating contaminants. Due to the shortage of masks, it is asked that the general public avoid buying them so the professionals and more vulnerable individuals (with proper instructions). can have access to it. Already sick people can use any cloth to cover mouth and nose that may act as an improvised mask to reduce the chance of contaminating others. Always remember that such masks/cloths/tissues will be contaminated.

4. Be sure to wash your hands before touching anything you may contaminate. e.g. Don’t remove your mask before washing your hands. Wash your hands again if you think you touched a contaminated part of the mask. Wash the faucet parts you touched during cleaning. Objects that look clean may still be contaminated.

5. Understand what cleaning means: The COVID-19 is a sensitive virus that can be removed and destroyed with soap or detergent and water. Soap cleans by attaching to lipids (fats) that are otherwise unsolvable in water. The COVID-19 is a small entity held together by an out lipid shell, which can be dissolved in contact with soap, destroying the virus. Be sure to apply plenty of mention to assure a great probability of contact between the virus and soap molecules. More time and more motion results in better cleaning.

6. Alcohol is an effective virucide (virus destroying agent). Either ethanol (ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol) or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) are the active component of hand sanitizers. Attention must be paid to concentration: the absolute minimum concentration for virucide action is 50% volume/volume of alcohol in the solution. Look on labels for concentration and consider that mixing it with other liquids may reduce its concentration unless it is being mixed with an alcohol solution even more concentrated. Alcohol may make your skin feel dry but is very biocompatible and evaporates fast, making decontamination fast, effective and convenient. Nevertheless, hand sanitizer is not a substitute for washing with soap.

7. DO NOT reuse contaminated protection equipment. Materials can be to a certain extent be sterilized for reuse. Exercise caution and avoid this when in doubt.

8. Bleach is a potent sterilizer that acts upon the virus with a fast chemical reaction destroying it and much of the substructure that it attaches to. Nevertheless, DO NOT drink bleach. It will not “clean your body” from the inside. Depending on the concentrations it may cause serious and fatal injuries. Bleach can be used in solutions of different concentrations for different applications, mostly to sterilize objects.

9. Common “alternative cleaning materials” don’t work: vinegar or baking soda are not effective virus killers. Although vinegar has mild germicide properties, it is not enough to protect from COVID-19. Silver solutions are also ineffective. Garlic solutions also have no effect on any virus. This is not the time for experimentation: stick with the program.

10. Deodorant sprays (Febreeze, etc.) DON’T work as decontaminating sterilizers.

11. Sunlight and ultraviolet light (ultraviolet-C) are effective virus killers. Objects that spent hours under uncovered direct sunlight can be free of COVID-19. Nevertheless, any part that remained in the shadow is potentially contaminated. Ultraviolet from black lights (ultraviolet-A) is not an effective germicide.

12. Leave your shoes at the door. When coming from an outside/contaminated environment, leave your shoes at the door.

13. Wash your hair with soap. Your hair presents a large, porous surface with oils that help the virus survive. Due to its position closer to other people’s faces and the fact you may touch your hair by reflex, you should consider your hair to be potentially exposed to contamination e.g. by touch transfer or direct contamination from couch droplets.

14. Try to stay hydrated and eat well. Staying healthy helps to fight initial infection or eventual progress of the disease. Give preference for cooked foods, as produce may be contaminated by handling.

15. COVID-19 has usually the same symptoms of the common flu e.g. cough, fever, runny nose and body ache. Those symptoms may manifest all together, separate or not at all. People have different tolerances for discomfort and different immune systems, sometimes resulting in a different perception. People without symptoms may be carrying the virus, or the virus may be in the objects they carry and their clothes.

16. Outdoor contamination is very unlikely if by a person more than 3 feet or a 1 meter away.

17. Don’t panic, stand by common sense and remember it is not only about you. Coronavirus is not dangerous for the vast majority of people. Nevertheless, your caution may save other more vulnerable lives, denying the virus the chance to use you as a transmitting vector.  Share, help, keep informed, and be kind.



Thiago Piwowarczyk is an Art Forensics Expert, Chemist and Conservation Science Expert at New York Art Forensics. After a classical training in artistic techniques since an early age, Mr. Piwowarczyk received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from São Paulo University, Brazil. Looking for applying the methods and standards of criminal investigations onto art investigation, he received a Master Degree in Forensic Sciences from Pace University, New York. For over a decade Mr. Piwowarczyk has been in the forefront of the application of scientific tools to the study of art either for forgery detection and attribution cases or to address complex conservation questions. His past clients include governmental institutions, the United Nations, museums, private collectors and auction houses. He is also currently holding a Fellowship at the Frick Collection at its Center for the History of Collecting, researching the history of Art Forensics and its role in shaping the Frick Collection.

Now that you have some time on your hands, here are some free Resources to help artists make the most out of self-isolation:

Quarantine Cooking with Plaguey Peggy

A vegan soup recipe to soothe the soul.

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