Copper Alloys for Human Infectious Disease Control

Michels HT, Wilks SA, Noyce JO, Keevil CW. Copper for the 21st Century Symposium, held at Materials Science and Technology Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. Sept 25-28, 2005.

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Several bacteria, known to be human pathogens, die when placed on copper alloy surfaces. The concentration of live bacteria drops from several orders of magnitude to zero on copper alloys in a few hours. In marked contrast, no reduction is seen in the concentration of live organisms on stainless steel during the six-hour test period. The copper alloys tested include high coppers, brasses, bronzes, copper -nickels and copper-nickel-zincs. The bacteria tested include E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes, both food-borne pathogens associated with several large-scale food recalls, and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a serious hospital-acquired infection. The study results suggest the selection of copper alloys for surfaces exposed to human touch or food contact. Using copper alloys in this manner can materially assist in reducing the transmission of potentially infectious organisms.