Infectious diseases are an increasing problem in big cities with high population densities. Indeed, fears of a swine flu (H1N1) pandemic have dominated media headlines this year. Diseases are frequently spread when people with dirty hands touch shared surfaces. For example, if a sick person covers their mouch when coughing, and then uses that same hand to open a door, the door handle may harbour their germs. Other people who touch that door handle may be infected.
Copper doorhandles may help prevent the spread of germs. The antimicrobial effects of copper have been known for thousands of years, but recent studies have shown that the antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA (Golden Staph) that is commonly found in hospitals, cannot survive on copper surfaces for more than 90 minutes
In contrast, the more common stainless steel surfaces allow germs to survive for days, and can only be effectively cleaned using antiseptics, which need to be frequently reapplied and can cause allergic reactions in some people.
This means that reducing the spread of germs around our homes and offices may be as simple as installing copper doorhandles, and copper versions of other fittings with frequent human contact like taps, faucets, push plates and elevator buttons. The copper-containing alloys brass and bronze are also effective, but take longer to kill germs.