COVID-19 has rocked everyone’s lives across the world, from our daily routines to how we plan to celebrate our upcoming holidays. These changes are also prompting innovation in terms of unique methods to prevent the spread of the virus.
Although most people think of copper as being something that you only see in wiring and pennies, it actually has far more uses than you might think—it can even help us decrease the spread of the coronavirus.
Copper’s “Self-Sanitizing” Properties
Copper has “anti-microbial” qualities. While copper does not kill the virus immediately, it has been shown to significantly reduce the life of the bacteria. Studies indicate that the virus can survive up to two or three days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces. It can last about 24 hours on cardboard. But it will survive just four hours on copper surfaces.
When bacteria touch copper, the metal will release copper ions. These ions are electronically charged. They come into contact with the bacteria particles, and they disrupt the outer, protective layer of the bacteria. Then, it can get inside the bacteria to destroy the virus’s DNA and RNA. That type of damage not only means that the virus can be completely destroyed, but it also does not have time to mutate and become resistant to the copper ions, either.
Some studies indicate that copper can also act as an antibacterial and anti fungal agent as well. The country of Chile has been reviewing and studying the uses of copper for years, but these benefits may prove to be especially useful because of COVID-19.
Incorporating Copper into Public Locations and Hospital Settings: COVID-19 and Beyond
Public areas are becoming far less crowded because of COVID-19, not only because of stay-at-home orders and the like, but also because the general public is simply afraid of contracting and spreading COVID-19. However, incorporating copper into public areas might be a good solution to help curb the spread.
In British Columbia, for example, public transportation is exploring new ways to incorporate copper surfaces. They are changing the poles that you might find on a bus or SkyTrain to have a copper coating. Teck Resources, for example, is investing $90,000 to install copper surfaces on electric trolley buses and two SkyTrain cars in Vancouver, British Columbia. Depending on how these trial periods play out, there may be a significant further investment in the near future.
The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is also home to over 50water bottle filling stations that are made from anti-microbial copper. The stations not only provide anti-microbial protection, but they also encourage those visiting the airport to cut down on plastic water bottle waste.
Anti-microbial copper is also being incorporated into hospital settings as well. Adam Estelle, a project engineer with CDA, notes that surfaces in hospitals are some of the most over-looked areas for disinfecting. Having copper surfaces can add another layer of infection prevention to the facility. They are also very durable, and, if installed correctly, they can last for decades. Copper coatings can be used on door handles, grab bars, sinks, carts, specialty equipment trays, and a lot more.
In lab testing, copper can kill a variety of bacteria within just two hours of exposure. As a result, copper coatings may be an excellent supplement to current infection and virus control measures, even beyond COVID-19. AlthoughCOVID-19 may have renewed the interest in copper surfaces, the trend could bean increased health and safety measure that will be used for years to come.