Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Cutting-edge copper alloys can save lives

September 10, 2012

NEW YORK — The Copper Development Association, a not-for-profit trade group, is helping save lives in healthcare settings with innovative uses of a long-known metal, according to Science Daily.

Certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still awaited, but studies have shown that copper alloys have impressive antimicrobial properties; 99.9 percent of disease-causing organisms die within two hours on surfaces containing at least 60 percent copper, while the same germs can linger on stainless steel surfaces for up to two weeks, the story stated.

CopperCopper alloys can be molded into many different shapes, including IV poles, sinks, bed rails, door handles and just about everything else patients and staffs touch in healthcare facilities, the story noted.

According to the story, healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) account for more annual deaths in the U.S. than acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and breast cancer combined, making them the fourth leading cause of death.

Adam Estelle of the Copper Development Association said, “This is a passive way to prevent infection that doesn't depend on human behavior such as handwashing or hydrogen peroxide vapor machines. There is no need for maintenance beyond the normal surface cleaning procedures that are already in place."

At a treatment cost of roughly $30,000 per HAI, adopting copper alloy surfaces can save healthcare facilities considerable money and countless lives, the story added.