Tag Archives: Copper Stewardship Site

University of Southampton study: Using copper to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses

30 Mar

Gregor Grass, Christopher Rensing, and Marc Solioz wrote in the 2010 article, PMCID: Metallic Copper as an Antimicrobial Surface:

ABSTRACT
Bacteria, yeasts, and viruses are rapidly killed on metallic copper surfaces, and the term “contact killing” has been coined for this process. While the phenomenon was already known in ancient times, it is currently receiving renewed attention. This is due to the potential use of copper as an antibacterial material in health care settings. Contact killing was observed to take place at a rate of at least 7 to 8 logs per hour, and no live microorganisms were generally recovered from copper surfaces after prolonged incubation. The antimicrobial activity of copper and copper alloys is now well established, and copper has recently been registered at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the first solid antimicrobial material. In several clinical studies, copper has been evaluated for use on touch surfaces, such as door handles, bathroom fixtures, or bed rails, in attempts to curb nosocomial infections. In connection to these new applications of copper, it is important to understand the mechanism of contact killing since it may bear on central issues, such as the possibility of the emergence and spread of resistant organisms, cleaning procedures, and questions of material and object engineering. Recent work has shed light on mechanistic aspects of contact killing. These findings will be reviewed here and juxtaposed with the toxicity mechanisms of ionic copper. The merit of copper as a hygienic material in hospitals and related settings will also be discussed…. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3067274/

See, Antimicrobial applications of copper https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1438463916300669

Some examples of antimicrobial copper products https://www.bing.com/shop?q=antimicrobial+copper+consumer+products&FORM=SHOPPA&originIGUID=28A0FB6787B744CFAE086762DF2CC635

Science Daily reported in the 2015 article,  Using copper to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

New research from the University of Southampton has found that copper can effectively help to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, which are linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Animal coronaviruses that ‘host jump’ to humans, such as SARS and MERS, result in severe infections with high mortality. The Southampton researchers found that a closely-related human coronavirus — 229E — can remain infectious on common surface materials for several days, but is rapidly destroyed on copper.
A newly-published paper in mBio — a journal of the American Society for Microbiology — reports that human coronavirus 229E, which produces a range of respiratory symptoms from the common cold to more lethal outcomes such as pneumonia, can survive on surface materials including ceramic tiles, glass, rubber and stainless steel for at least five days. While human-to-human transmission is important, infections can be contracted by touching surfaces contaminated by respiratory droplets from infected individuals, or hand touching, leading to a wider and more rapid spread
On copper, and a range of copper alloys — collectively termed ‘antimicrobial copper’ — the coronavirus was rapidly inactivated (within a few minutes, for simulated fingertip contamination). Exposure to copper destroyed the virus completely and irreversibly, leading the researchers to conclude that antimicrobial copper surfaces could be employed in communal areas and at any mass gatherings to help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses and protect public health.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Warnes said: “Transmission of infectious diseases via contaminated surfaces is far more important than was originally thought, and this includes viruses that cause respiratory infections. This is especially important when the infectious dose is low and just a few virus particles can initiate an infection.
“Human coronavirus, which also has ancestral links with bat-like viruses responsible for SARS and MERS, was found to be permanently and rapidly deactivated upon contact with copper. What’s more, the viral genome and structure of the viral particles were destroyed, so nothing remained that could pass on an infection. With the lack of antiviral treatments, copper offers a measure that can help reduce the risk of these infections spreading.”
Speaking on the importance of the study, Professor Bill Keevil, co-author and Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, said: “Respiratory viruses are responsible for more deaths, globally, than any other infectious agent. The evolution of new respiratory viruses, and the re-emergence of historic virulent strains, poses a significant threat to human health…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151110102147.htm

Citation:

Using copper to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses
Date: November 10, 2015
Source: University of Southampton
Summary:
Copper can effectively help to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, which are linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), new research shows. Animal coronaviruses that ‘host jump’ to humans, such as SARS and MERS, result in severe infections with high mortality. Researchers found that a closely-related human coronavirus – 229E – can remain infectious on common surface materials for several days, but is rapidly destroyed on copper.

Journal Reference:
S. L. Warnes, Z. R. Little and C. W. Keevil. Human coronavirus 229E remains infectious on common touch surface materials. mBio, November 2015 DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01697-15

Here is the 2015 press release from the University of Southampton:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 10-NOV-2015

Using copper to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON

New research from the University of Southampton has found that copper can effectively help to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, which are linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Animal coronaviruses that ‘host jump’ to humans, such as SARS and MERS, result in severe infections with high mortality. The Southampton researchers found that a closely-related human coronavirus – 229E – can remain infectious on common surface materials for several days, but is rapidly destroyed on copper.
A newly-published paper in mBio – a journal of the American Society for Microbiology – reports that human coronavirus 229E, which produces a range of respiratory symptoms from the common cold to more lethal outcomes such as pneumonia, can survive on surface materials including ceramic tiles, glass, rubber and stainless steel for at least five days. While human-to-human transmission is important, infections can be contracted by touching surfaces contaminated by respiratory droplets from infected individuals, or hand touching, leading to a wider and more rapid spread
On copper, and a range of copper alloys – collectively termed ‘antimicrobial copper’ – the coronavirus was rapidly inactivated (within a few minutes, for simulated fingertip contamination). Exposure to copper destroyed the virus completely and irreversibly, leading the researchers to conclude that antimicrobial copper surfaces could be employed in communal areas and at any mass gatherings to help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses and protect public health.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Warnes said: “Transmission of infectious diseases via contaminated surfaces is far more important than was originally thought, and this includes viruses that cause respiratory infections. This is especially important when the infectious dose is low and just a few virus particles can initiate an infection.
“Human coronavirus, which also has ancestral links with bat-like viruses responsible for SARS and MERS, was found to be permanently and rapidly deactivated upon contact with copper. What’s more, the viral genome and structure of the viral particles were destroyed, so nothing remained that could pass on an infection. With the lack of antiviral treatments, copper offers a measure that can help reduce the risk of these infections spreading.”
Speaking on the importance of the study, Professor Bill Keevil, co-author and Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, said: “Respiratory viruses are responsible for more deaths, globally, than any other infectious agent. The evolution of new respiratory viruses, and the re-emergence of historic virulent strains, poses a significant threat to human health.
“The rapid inactivation and irreversible destruction of the virus observed on copper and copper alloy surfaces suggests that the incorporation of copper alloy surfaces – in conjunction with effective cleaning regimes and good clinical practice – could help control transmission of these viruses.”
Previous research by Professor Keevil and Dr Warnes has proved copper’s efficacy against norovirus, influenza and hospital superbugs, such as MRSA and Klebsiella, plus stopping the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria to create new superbugs.
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For more information on antimicrobial copper, visit http://www.antimicrobialcopper.org
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

See, EPA Registration Copper Stewardship Site https://www.copperalloystewardship.com/

ScienceNetLinks wrote in Antibacterial Doorknobs:

Making Sense of the Research
You may have heard that doorknobs and sink handles are big germ-carriers. With so many people handling them all day long, often one right after another, it isn’t hard to see how germs from one person’s hand could end up on another’s by way of a doorknob.
You probably didn’t know that copper had antibacterial properties. But if it were your job to design the interiors of large buildings, or buy fixtures for schools, hospitals, or other big institutions, you’d probably have heard this. Manufacturers often promote copper’s proven bacteria-killing properties to sell fixtures made of brass, bronze, or other metals with a high copper content.
This experiment shows the importance of considering all factors before reaching a conclusion. Copper helps kill germs; therefore, it makes sense that copper-based doorknobs would pass along fewer germs than knobs made of glass, plastic, steel, or other materials. However, there’s a crucial factor that may be left out of this scenario: the sweat from the hands that touch the doorknobs.
It was known that sweat can corrode copper alloys (metal mixtures) like brass in the long term. But in this study, the researchers studied the effects of sweat on copper surfaces within a few hours of contact. They found that within as little as an hour, the salt in sweat can form a corrosive layer on the surface of the metal, which would prevent the electrochemical reaction that kills microorganisms.
Now, a full hour after someone touches a doorknob may sound like a long time for this effect to take hold. But consider how many people handle doorknobs or similar fixtures in a day: more than enough to neutralize the metal’s germ-killing powers as long as the building stays busy. What’s more, Bond points out that frequently touched items collect salts from the sweat of many people, which makes the corrosive layer tougher and longer lasting.
It would be difficult to study this in a real-life setting, for a number of reasons. In order to control the study properly, researchers would have to study bacterial colonies on brass fixtures handled all day long, and compare them to other brass fixtures that were somehow protected from sweat but exposed to the same people’s skin microorganisms. However, the research suggests that institutions using copper-based fixtures shouldn’t slack off on cleaning them, nor should they make any less of an effort to make sure people keep washing their hands.
Now try and answer these questions:
1. Why have copper-based doorknobs, sink handles, and other fixtures been promoted as healthy choices for schools, hospitals, and surgical wards?
2. What did this study find out about the relationship between sweat and the usual properties of copper?
3. What does this say, in your opinion, about the challenges of coming up with practical uses for scientific discoveries?
You may want to check out these related resources:

In the Science Update Triclosan and Staph , http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/triclosan-and-staph/ learn how some antibacterial chemicals may actually backfire and actively help a kind of bacteria they’re designed to kill.
The Science Update UV Disinfectant http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/uv-disinfectant/ describes another approach to helping keep hospitals germ-free.
For more about alloys, see the video Shape Memory Alloys, http://sciencenetlinks.com/videos/shape-memory-alloys/ in which Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale, demonstrates “metals with a memory” used in space, in robots, and even in your mouth! http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/antibacterial-doorknobs/

More research is necessary to find products and techniques to halt the destructive properties of viruses.

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