A Climbers Best Friend
Like many people, the first thing I do before hopping on the wall is chalk up. Whether it’s due to hot temperatures and sweaty hands or that chalking up has become a ritualistic behavior, it is something that brings comfort and confidence to my climbing. With gyms adapting and putting new measures into place to mitigate the risk of covid, chalking up may do more than adding extra friction. I am not a scientist nor an epidemiologist, but in my research I have found some articles that help shed light on the relationship between covid and chalk.
In July Friction Labs partnered with scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus to test out how well liquid chalk could kill bacteria and viruses. While lab work often gets passed off to graduate students, this project caught the attention of a team of professors specializing in immunology and microbiology. Test results showed that not only did the chalk completely kill the virus but it was as effective as the industrial-strength disinfectant CU uses to disinfect their own laboratories. Fortunately for us, while it is as effective as their disinfectant it isn’t as harsh on our hands! For more information on the study check out the link below!
Around the same time Friction Labs was testing their liquid chalk the Association of British Climbing walls tackled the question of powdered chalk. With many climbers still preferring to use powdered chalk it is important to know how it may affect the spread of viruses such as covid. Researchers at the De Montfort University Leicester in England conducted studies to see how they interacted. In this study they showed that while powdered chalk did not completely kill the virus, the number of infectious particles were reduced by more than 99%. This means that chalk left on holds will not retain the virus, even if someone inadvertently carries the virus into the gym. Not only does chalk reduce the number of particles, it also makes the virus inactive. Rich Emerson, Chair of the ABC said: “These results look fantastic and show chalk could once again be the climbers best friend.”
While the results of both studies bring a sense of optimism to gyms reopening, it is important to also remember and maintain all other protocols gyms have put in place. Everything from wearing a mask to physical distancing still remain important. We can go back knowing that there are ways that we as individuals can protect our gyms. Let’s chalk up and get climbing!