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People are microwaving library books and masks to kill COVID-19 — and that's bad

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 6/23/2020 Chanel Stitt, Detroit Free Press
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People are getting creative when it comes to staying safe from COVID-19 and it has prompted at least one Michigan library to issue a public warning: Stop microwaving books. 

A burned book was returned to Kent District Library after being damaged in a microwave. Don't microwave anything, library officials say.  

Library books have metal in the security radio frequency identification (RFID) tags,  which are located inside of the book. When the metal entered the microwave, a hole was burned into the cover.

A book was returned to Kent District Library after it had been microwaved. Library officials say do not microwave books. © Elizabeth Guarino-Kozlowicz A book was returned to Kent District Library after it had been microwaved. Library officials say do not microwave books.

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"I don't know if it was something that they saw on the news — that they thought maybe the heat would kill COVID-19," said Elizabeth Guarino-Kozlowicz, regional manager of Kent District Library.

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Metal in a microwave could burn or catch on fire, Guarino-Kozlowicz said.

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The library wants its users to know that all materials are in quarantine for 72 hours due to the plastic protection on items, so there is no need to take any further sterilization steps. They are using U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines to ensure safety for using library materials. 

"All of the items go into a separate space," Guarino-Kozlowicz said. "We set them aside for three days and then we check them in after that. We don't want them to feel concerned that they need to do anything."

Guarino said she completed a lot of research to come up with the library's safety procedures due to public safety concerns. She said to check with libraries to find out their safety plans. 

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In addition, USA TODAY responded to public questions about sterilizing face masks and one inquiry was about microwaving face masks. Experts recommended against microwaving masks since metal often is found inside the masks, just like library books. 

The Detroit Red Wings stepped up to help sanitize masks by offering their Sani Sport VE machine, which uses ozone gas filters.

However, it's best not to try disinfecting masks at home, other than throwing reusable cloth ones into the washing machine. 

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: People are microwaving library books and masks to kill COVID-19 — and that's bad

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