A study conducted by professor Mr Bill Keevil from the University of Southhampton presented at the BIT Life Sciences’ 2nd Annual World Summit of anti virals in Beijing said that extensive use of copper in public places can help combat spread of the recently erupted pandemic influenza or popularly known as swine flue due to the red metal’s anti bacterial property.
The study further found that copper touch surfaces can significantly reduce the concentration of influenza a virus on them, raising hopes that it may also be effective against other strains of the virus. About 75% of influenza is knocked out in 1 hour on a copper surface and almost completely in 6 hours. The findings are timely given the current influenza H1N1 pandemic currently sweeping the world. But even more common forms of flu are a major global health issue.
The recent threat of swine flu has emerged as the most important health concern in India and has triggered the need to use the most protective and efficient measures to reduce its spread in public places. While people have been advised to be alert, wash hands regularly, avoid crowded places like cinema halls, shopping complexes, malls etc, International Copper Promotion Council finds an opportunity for more copper uses in public places as the metal has the capability to combat the spread of the H1N1 virus.
Mr Keevil said that “There is no single answer to controlling the spread of pathogenic microorganisms but copper surfaces may contribute to the number of control barriers able to reduce transmission of the virus.”
H1N1 virus appears to be transmitted the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
In 2008, the US Environmental Protection Agency approved the registration of antimicrobial copper alloys with public health claims acknowledging that copper, brass and bronze are capable of killing harmful, potentially deadly bacteria. Copper and copper alloy surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of bacteria within 2 hours and continue to kill more than 99% of bacteria even after repeated contamination. Therefore, it has been recognized that the use of copper touch surfaces in hospitals, educational institutions, public buildings, public transport and food preparation areas can reduce the spread of harmful infections.
Copper and its alloys are available in a variety of forms like door handles, grab rails and bathroom fixtures etc. which are regular touch surfaces and can work to demonstrate reduced build up and transfer of infectious pathogens.
Mr Ajit Advani deputy regional director Asia, International Copper Association Limited and CEO of ICPCI said that “In India, we have known about the protective properties of copper since the vedic ages. This has now been corroborated by modern science. Use of this wonder metal in public touch surfaces can go a long way in reducing the spread of infections such as influenza.”