The Amazing Properties of Copper
In the United States, 1 out of every 20 hospital patients develops an HAI, resulting in an estimated 100,000 deaths per year. Although numerous strategies have been developed to decrease these infections, Antimicrobial Copper is the only strategy that works continuously, has been scientifically proven to be effective and doesn’t depend on human behaviour, according to a recently published study in the SHEA Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
“The implications of this study are critical,” said Dr. Harold Michels, Senior Vice President of the Copper Development Association (CDA). “Until now, the only attempts to reduce HAIs have required hand hygiene, increased cleaning and patient screening, which don’t necessarily stop the growth of these bacteria the way copper alloy surfaces do. We now know that copper is the game-changer: it has the potential to save lives.”
Intensive Care Units See the Benefit of Copper Alloys
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defence, was conducted in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of three major hospitals: The Medical University of South Carolina, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City and the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Charleston, South Carolina. To determine the impact of copper alloy surfaces on the rate of HAIs, copper-surfaced objects were placed in each ICU, where patients are at higher risk due to the severity of their illnesses, invasive procedures and frequent interaction with healthcare workers. Patients were randomly placed in available rooms with or without copper alloy surfaces, and the rates of HAIs were compared. A total of 650 patients and 16 rooms (8 copper and 8 standard) were studied between July 12, 2010 and June 14, 2011.
Results of this study, that appeared last July in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, found that Antimicrobial Copper can continuously kill 83% of bacteria that cause HAIs within two hours, including strands resistant to antibiotics. The study compared copper to equivalent non-copper touch surfaces during active patient care between routine cleaning and sanitizing.
“Copper alloy surfaces offer an alternative way to reduce the increasing number of HAIs, without having to worry about changing healthcare worker behaviour,” said Dr. Michael Schmidt, Vice Chairman of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina and one of the authors of the study. “Because the antimicrobial effect is a continuous property of copper, the regrowth of deadly bacteria is significantly less on these surfaces, making a safer environment for hospital patients.”
In study results, 46 patients developed an HAI, while 26 patients became colonized with MRSA or VRE. Overall, the proportion of patients who developed an HAI was significantly lower among those assigned to intensive care rooms with objects fabricated using copper alloys. There are currently hundreds of Antimicrobial Copper healthcare-related products available today, including IV poles, stretchers, tray tables and door hardware.
This study was so successful that an interdisciplinary team from UCLA began replicating this research in July 2012. The team is testing ICUs with Antimicrobial Copper at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre.
For more information about Antimicrobial Copper, visit http://www.antimicrobialcopper.com.
Numerous antimicrobial efficacy studies have been conducted in the past 10 years regarding copper’s efficacy to destroy a wide range of bacteria, as well as influenza A virus, adenovirus, and fungi.
Copper-alloy touch surfaces have natural intrinsic properties to destroy a wide range of microorganisms. Some 355 copper alloys were proven to kill more than 99.9% of disease-causing bacteria within just two hours when cleaned regularly. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the registrations of these copper alloys as “antimicrobial materials with public health benefits,” which allows manufacturers to legally make claims as to the positive public health benefits of products made with registered antimicrobial copper alloys. In addition, the EPA has approved a long list of antimicrobial copper products made from these alloys, such as bedrails, handrails, over-bed tables, sinks, faucets, door knobs, toilet hardware, computer keyboards, health club equipment, shopping cart handles, etc. Copper doorknobs are used by hospitals to reduce the transfer of disease, and Legionnaires’ disease is suppressed by copper tubing in plumbing systems. Antimicrobial copper alloy products are now being installed in healthcare facilities in the U.K., Ireland, Japan, Korea, France, Denmark, Brazil and Chile amongst other.