Coppers Antimicrobial Properties May Change Hospital Design

Antimicrobial copper alloys may soon make their way into healthcare facilities. The Copper Development Association (CDA) will exhibit antimicrobial door hardware and hospital accessories made of various copper alloys at the Healthcare Design 2009 Conference in Orlando, Fla. next month.

Architects, designers, facility managers and hospital administrators will be able to see first hand how one of the world’s oldest metals can be effective against bacteria* that thrive on high-touch surfaces and cause hospital-acquired infections.

“This is a great opportunity for CDA to educate architects and the healthcare community about the benefits of installing antimicrobial copper touch surfaces in healthcare facilities,” said Wayne Seale, a project manager with CDA who is representing the association at the conference.  “This conference allows us to get in front of several markets at once and provide them with the latest clinical research to ensure a safe and secure environment for their patients, staff and visitors.”

Healthcare Design ‘09 is devoted to demonstrating how the design of responsible built environments directly impacts the safety, operation, clinical outcomes, and financial success of healthcare facilities now and into the future. The conference is being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

CDA will showcase a 2-foot wide by 6-foot long table containing a backsplash and a front apron made of untreated copper alloys: copper-nickel, nickel-silver and phosphor bronze.  The table’s legs will also be made of nickel silver.  An IV stand made of copper-nickel with a nickel-silver finish will be featured in CDA’s booth. A standard 3-foot by 7-foot commercial door containing antimicrobial hardware, including a lockset made of Eco-Brass, nickel silver and copper nickel kick plates and push/pull handles, will also be on display.

“We’re pretty excited to unveil these antimicrobial copper surfaces to the public,” Seale said.  “Copper has always been admired for its beauty, durability and longevity, but its antimicrobial property may be the metal’s most beneficial quality of all.”

Seale will join Larry Peters, also a project manager with CDA, at the conference to answer questions and distribute literature and technical information about copper’s antimicrobial properties.

Laboratory testing proves that copper and its alloys, brass and bronze, kill more than 99.9 percent of pathogens* within two hours when cleaned regularly.

The Environmental Protection Agency has registered copper, brass and bronze as antimicrobial and is allowing public health claims to be made about their effectiveness against Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, E. coli O157:H7, Enterobacter aerogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These pathogens can survive for extended periods of time on other materials, such as plastic, aluminum and stainless steel.

Researchers at three U.S. hospitals recently replaced plastic, aluminum and stainless steel surfaces in their intensive care units with antimicrobial copper in order to test copper’s ability to eradicate bacteria and measure its impact on hospital-acquired infections.   The surfaces replaced are those that testing has shown to be most heavily contaminated and which also happen to be in closest proximity to the patient and visitors: IV poles, bed rails, call buttons, tray tables and armchairs.

* Testing demonstrates effective antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, E. coli O157:H7, Enterobacter aerogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

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