Paint that Kills Coronavirus?

By Katie Herrmann

Could your paint protect you from COVID-19? It may be possible in the near future thanks to the development of antimicrobial paint. Pittsburgh’s own PPG is partnering with Corning Incorporated to get EPA approval on a paint that they say kills more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Corning is a multinational technology company that specializes in specialty glass, ceramics, and related materials and technologies primarily for industrial and scientific applications. You may know Corning from its consumer product lines of CorningWare, Pyrex, or Corelle, but the company has since moved its focus to display technologies, environmental technologies, life sciences, optical communications, and specialty materials (including the development of iPhone screens).

The company’s latest breakthrough in glass-ceramic technology is the development of Corning Guardiant. This new technology is an antimicrobial powder that can be added to paints and coatings to supplement the use of disinfectant on surfaces. It is a glass composition that traps copper ions inside a glass matrix and keeps the most effective form of copper readily available for reducing harmful germs. Referencing the new Corning Guardiant, the company asks the question: “If recontamination is constant, shouldn’t decontamination be constant, too?”

Following U.S. EPA recommendations, the University of Arizona’s microbiology lab has performed test methods that mimic in-use conditions for antimicrobial surface materials against harmful. The lab used stringent test methods that simulated realistic contamination in both dry and wet conditions.

The results of using the paint with Corning Guardiant showed that the coating had a highly durable antimicrobial activity, becoming effective in two hours or less. That antimicrobial activity remained even after simulating six years of scrubbing. In addition to targeting the Coronavirus, the microbial paint also was found to kill a variety of other bacteria, including those that cause staph infections and some non-enveloped viruses, which are among the hardest-to-kill class of viruses in terms of its susceptibility to disinfectants.

PPG announced this week that it would partner with Corning and other leaders in the nation’s paint industry to get this product onto shelves. However, prior to making any claims that the paint will protect against harmful germs, finished products incorporating Corning Guardiant must first be registered with the EPA. PPG’s chairman and CEO said in a statement about its partnership with Corning, “We know that now more than ever, our customers are seeking multiple layers of protection as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Following registration with the EPA, we look forward to launching a paint product in the coming months that contains Corning Guardiant, providing customers with an additional safeguard from the Coronavirus in areas that pose a higher health risk.”

Once complete, Corning says the paint can be used on almost any surface, including heavily-touched surfaces such as doors, walls, desks, and tables. Aside from the obvious benefit of having another line of defense against COVID-19, the new technology could also serve as a great marketing strategy for businesses. In the uncertain pandemic-affected future, it might give the edge to a struggling business to advertise:  “Come on in—our store is freshly painted with Coronavirus-killing paint!”  

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