U.S. EPA approves registration of antimicrobial copper alloys
Copper, brass, and bronze kill pathogens—including “superbug” MRSA—responsible for hospital- and community-acquired infections.
The U.S.stration, which is supported by extensive antimicrobial efficacy testing, according to the Copper Development Assn .
The EPA registration is based on independent laboratory testing using EPA-prescribed protocols that demonstrate the metals' ability to kill specific disease-causing bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is one of the most virulent strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a common cause of hospital- and community-acquired infections.
Testing under EPA-approved protocols demonstrates that copper, brasses, and bronzes are effective against a number of disease-causing bacteria. For example, one study shows that on copper alloy surfaces, greater than 99.9% of MRSA "superbugs" are killed within two hours at room temperature.
The following statements are included in the registration: "When cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper alloys surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of (specific) bacteria within two hours, and continue to kill more than 99% of (these) bacteria even after repeated contamination," and "The use of a copper alloy surface is a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices, including those practices related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces. The copper alloy surface material has been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but it does not necessarily prevent cross contamination."
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate infections acquired in U.S. hospitals affecthardware, bed rails, intravenous (IV) stands, dispensers, faucets, sinks and work stations, can help reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria in patient rooms.
Unlike coatings or other materials treatments, the antibacterial efficacy of copper metals won't wear away: they can offer solid, long-term protection. Discussions are ongoing with major hospital equipment manufacturers about the development of appropriate copper-based products.
For additional information about antimicrobial copper, www.copper.org .