Wash Your Hands! In New 'Short Talks,' Gibson Explains Effect of Soap on Respiratory Viruses

Kristen Gibson, left, with former student Sabastine Arthur.
University of Arkansas / University Relations

Kristen Gibson, left, with former student Sabastine Arthur.

In the new episode of Short Talks From the Hill, Kristen Gibson explains how soap destroys respiratory viruses such as coronavirus and offers tips for handling potentially contaminated surfaces.

Gibson is an associate professor of food safety and microbiology in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. She studies the fate and transport of pathogens within food systems, focusing on human noroviruses and fresh produce, as well as retail food safety.

When the coronavirus pandemic broke, Gibson's knowledge and expertise were in high demand. Was packaged and take-out food safe? How should it be handled? Gibson addressed these concerns with several media outlets and emphasized the critical importance of hand-washing, something everyone should be doing regularly, she says, even when there isn't a pandemic.

In this new podcast, Gibson explains the effect of soap on respiratory viruses, such coronavirus.

"Respiratory viruses have what is called an envelope. And this is basically … a fatty layer around the virus itself. And so if you remember a little bit about chemistry from back in the day, soap is designed to break down fat. So for a respiratory viruses, soap will destroy that outer envelope that protects the virus. And then it makes it more susceptible to kind of destroying the virus and making it not able to infect anymore."

To listen to Gibson discuss her research, go to ResearchFrontiers.uark.edu, the home of research news at the University of Arkansas, or visit the "On Air" and "Programs" link at KUAF.com.

Short Talks From the Hill highlights research and scholarly work at the University of Arkansas. Each segment features a university researcher discussing his or her work. Previous podcasts can be found under the 'Short Talks From the Hill' link at ResearchFrontiers.uark.edu.

Thank you for listening!

Contacts

Matt McGowan, science and research writer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Robby Edwards, director of communications
Bumpers College
479-575-4625, robbye@uark.edu

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