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Why do Copper Surfaces Inactivate Viruses Within Hours Compared to Days on Other Surfaces?

Why do Copper Surfaces Inactivate Viruses Within Hours Compared to Days on Other Surfaces?

Copper is very effective in the fight against bacteria and viruses. A number of studies have proven that copper surfaces destroy viruses in just a few hours compared to days on other more common surface materials. Copper is a natural antimicrobial that we have been using to our advantage for thousands of years — at first without even realizing its true power! 

But how exactly does copper protect us against infectious microbes? 

First, let’s start with bacteria. The research team at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom explains that copper is effective against bacteria because it releases positively charged ions that act very quickly to destroy the bacteria’s DNA. Another important quality of copper is that its use can prevent mutation and antibiotic resistance by destroying plasmids  — which can move between bacteria and develop into superbugs. 

The super metal has also been found to neutralize a wide range of potentially fatal viruses on surface contact: infectious bronchitis virus, poliovirus, human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1), and other enveloped or nonenveloped single- or double-stranded DNA and RNA viruses. It can also destroy that human norovirus — an annoying and easily spread virus that is typically resistant to many cleaning products. 

The answer to copper’s potency against viruses lies in its antiviral activity 

Research indicates that brass and copper-nickel surfaces lead to a rapid inactivation of the human coronavirus. In the 2015 study, copper’s antiviral activity happened at varied time points. The virus was shown to be completely killed in less than 40 minutes on brass and 2 hours on copper nickels made from less than 70% copper. Copper nickels were seen to require a higher proportion of copper to reach the same viral inactivation quality as brass  — 90% in nickel compared to just 70% required for brass. Stainless steel and nickel (that does not include copper) failed to present any antiviral action. And very mild antiviral activity was seen in the metal zinc. 

When a virus comes into contact with copper, it is killed via the breaking apart of its genome

The copper kicks into action with some irreversible damage — that virus is not coming back to life any time soon. 

The scientists who delved into copper’s defences against the coronavirus 229E discovered that after exposure to copper the virus particles were smaller, less rigid and folded up on themselves. Interestingly, similar changes were not observed when recovering the virus particles from stainless steel surfaces.

The way in which copper kills viruses is complex. Ultimately the most important attribute is that copper ensures that microbes are continuously attacked and killed — and quickly. Similarly to how copper stops bacteria in its tracks, the super metal completely destroys the virus’ DNA. Effectively giving the virus no chance to adapt and develop any resistance that would make copper less effective against it in the future. 

How effective at killing viruses is copper in comparison to other surfaces? 

It’s very effective. 

Many of our metals — copper, silver, iron, zinc, titanium —  display some antimicrobial properties; copper is the best of the best and continuously works to kill microbes despite varied temperatures and levels of humidity. 

In a 2015 study — which looked at how long the human respiratory virus 229E stays active on various surfaces — copper emerged as the best performing surface by far. Teflon, PVC, ceramic, glass and stainless steel all retained the virus particles for 5 days. Virus particles could still be identified on silicon rubber after 3 days. Copper, on the other hand, acted very quickly to eliminate all traces of the virus. The speed at which the virus particles were eliminated was directly proportional to the percentage of copper in the material. In the last month the US government also conducted some testing on the new coronavirus COVID-19 and they found that it could only survive on copper for 4 hours in comparison to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel. 

Isn’t stainless steel a metal? If it’s not effective against microbes then why do we use it so often in kitchens? 

Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium. The alloy typically includes carbon and nitrogen. Since iron itself doesn’t display strong antimicrobial properties — it’s alloys are even less capable of killing microbes. Iron and steel are significantly less expensive than other metals. The cost factor combined with the materials strength has led to its extensive use in construction. 

Stainless steel is one of the most widely used surfaces in public spaces and kitchens around the world. However, many studies have shown that both bacteria and viruses can survive on the surface for a number of days. In order to keep stainless steel kitchen surfaces clean and free of microbes, strict hygiene practices must be constantly maintained. This is often impossible for public spaces. 

Why do Copper Surfaces Inactivate Viruses Within Hours Compared to Days on Other Surfaces?

Copper is the clear winner when it comes to surface inactivation of viruses 

It’s pretty obvious that copper wins hands down in the competition for the most hygienic surface material. Although there is mounting evidence of the benefits of the use of copper surfaces, more large scale studies are needed before there is widespread acceptance and major decision-makers start to take action on the topic. An important milestone for copper researchers is the advocacy for antimicrobial copper by the ECRI institute, a world-leading research institute with influence on over 5000 healthcare organizations around the globe.

The answer to why we’re not yet making the best use of the incredible super metal is a topic for another day. There are a number of factors that have held back copper’s popularity since it reached its height in the industrial revolution.  

What we are sure of is: copper is making a huge comeback.

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The Incredible Health Properties of Copper you Didn’t Know About

The Incredible Health Properties of Copper you Didn’t Know About

Have you reached your recommended daily dose of copper today? When you consider minerals that your body may be lacking for good health copper is probably the last thing that comes to mind.  

It’s time to bring you up to date! Our ancestor's favourite metal has more health benefits than we can count on two hands. 

Copper is a naturally-occurring element — and it’s good for you! 

Copper is a naturally-occurring element in our environment and essential for all living things. It is present everywhere you look. Copper is found in our oceans, lakes, rivers, sediments, and soils. Despite being essential to life, copper is not formed in the body. 

Generally, we easily get enough copper from food sources and drinking water as part of a balanced diet. Unlike its metallic cousin iron, human copper deficiencies are not common. But when they do happen it can lead to very serious health problems. 

Without sufficient copper, our well-being is severely impacted; it is essential from foetal development right through until old age. Copper is especially important for healthy brain development, and for nervous system function. It is also required for blood vessel formation, a healthy heart, collagen production, and healthy bones and teeth. Today, we have a significant body of evidence to remind us that copper intake is essential for our immune function. Our animals are equally susceptible to illness when faced with a copper deficiency, and for this reason copper supplementation is also a matter of serious concern for cattle farmers. 

We’ve been using copper for medicinal purposes for thousands of years 

The composition of copper, which includes a number of very useful properties, made it a perfect fit for countless uses throughout history an extremely important use being health. 

The first recorded medical use of copper was to sterilize chest wounds and drinking water in Egypt 1500 - 2500 B.C.! The Greeks and the Aztecs are also known for using copper to treat wounds and skin infections. In the Paris cholera epidemic of the 19th century, the copper workers emerged as the only group with proven immunity to the disease.

Health Properties of Copper Infographic

As you can see, we’ve known about the antimicrobial benefits of copper for centuries. Years later — with all of our increased knowledge and technology advancements — we still use copper for areas of public health such as the sterilization of drinking water and wounds. Copper alloys are used for touch surfaces worldwide, especially in public areas with high footfall. Copper is the first and also the only metal with antimicrobial properties to be registered by the American Environmental Protection Agency. 

Studies in hospital wards have found up to a 100% reduction in live bacteria on regularly touched surfaces that use a copper alloy. A 58% reduction in infection rates was also observed when using copper alloy surfaces. 

Copper ions have shown antimicrobial activity when coming into contact with a range of different microorganisms including the commonly known Salmonella and E. Coli. When microbes land on the copper surface this activates the release of copper ions which act to prevent cell respiration by effectively punching holes in the bacterial cell membrane and quickly destroying the DNA and RNA inside. According to the research team at the University of Southampton, the speed at which copper works means that the bacteria is very unlikely to develop a resistance to the metal. 

You could cure your smelly feet or even your foot fungus with copper! 

The antimicrobial properties of copper mean that metal can be very useful if you run into problems with foot odor and fungus. Studies have shown that when copper oxide is added to polyester it is very effective against foot tinea. The use of copper is a great way to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus that could otherwise thrive in your clothing and contribute to infections. 

Copper-infused fabric may also eliminate that lingering stinky odor your feet have when you take off your socks! Researchers have also found that copper’s qualities extend to odor removal. In the 2010 study scientists looked at copper-coated silica nanoparticles and found that they well and truly outperformed active carbon at removing odor from ethyl mercaptan (the nasty smell from natural gas).

Your anti-aging cream probably includes copper 

Did you know that copper is a key ingredient in many popular anti-aging creams? As we mentioned earlier, copper is important for numerous functions in our body as well as collagen production. Copper peptides a form of copper that is easily absorbed into the skin  — is commonly used in popular creams such as those from the French beauty giant L’Oreal

Copper’s ability to reduce inflammation and speed up healing makes it an excellent quality for keeping your skin healthy, not only on your face but your entire body! Scientists have been studying the effect of copper oxide containing yarns for the last decade. They found that the addition of copper to our everyday products can transform them into super products! When copper oxide was added to pillowcases it led to a clear reduction in facial wrinkles and fine lines. The cosmetic benefit of wearable copper garments comes down to skin rejuvenation - fewer wrinkles and softer, more elastic skin. 

Copper surfaces and copper-infused protective gear could significantly limit the spread of fatal respiratory viruses

Researchers have discovered that copper is not only effective when faced with bacteria. Copper can actually go a long way in protecting us from viral illnesses. 

The super metal has been found to neutralize a wide range of potentially fatal viruses on surface contact: infectious bronchitis virus, poliovirus, human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1), and other enveloped or nonenveloped single- or double-stranded DNA and RNA viruses.

A study in 2015 discovered that a human respiratory virus, coronavirus 229E, remained infectious on common surface materials such as glass, silicone rubber, and stainless steel for several days. In comparison, the virus is destroyed within just a few hours when exposed to copper surfaces. Earlier studies have also proven that human norovirus — a stubborn virus, resistant to many cleaning agents — can be quickly destroyed on copper and copper alloy surfaces.

Very recently, spurred by this year’s worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, a study conducted by the US government reported that “the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, remained viable for up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces vs. up to 4 hours on copper.” 

Surfaces made of copper and copper alloys are extremely effective at killing a number of dangerous respiratory illnesses that we currently don’t have cures for. 

Despite the initial cost outlay to implement resurfacing, more copper surfaces in public areas and health institutions are expected to provide long term cost savings. The copper surfaces effectively limit the virus’ ability to spread to new hosts via constant antiviral activity against surface recontamination from sufferers — who don’t always show symptoms. The use of copper oxide infused protective masks has also been proven to limit the spread of respiratory viruses when given to healthy individuals for protection from influenza sufferers. 

Copper might shield you from urban electromagnetic radiation

These days many of us depend on technology for almost every aspect of our lives: from the alarm, we wake up to and our careers to our preferred entertainment options and keeping in contact with friends. Over the past decade the number of devices we use daily that emit electromagnetic radiation has rapidly increased. With this elevation in exposure to electromagnetic radiation also comes a real concern for the possible adverse effects on our health. Exposure to EMR is uncharted territory, and it is hard to determine the full extent of the damage it is doing to our bodies. One thing researchers have come to a conclusion on is that long-term electromagnetic radiation exposure is causing us harm. 

Copper is one of the most reliable materials available for creating a natural EMF shield. This is largely because copper can shield from both radio frequencies and magnetic waves. 

To put it simply: the copper can absorb radio and magnetic waves to stop them from reaching us! Copper for EMF shielding is used for a variety of common applications such as hospital MRI machines in hospitals, computer equipment, and server rooms. Since electromagnetic radiation reaches almost all aspects of our lives we need to move towards EMF shields that can stay closer to our bodies. Researchers have been working hard to make copper-infused clothes with EMF shielding capabilities available to the wider public. As the threat of 5g looms closer, copper may be the most effective shield we have. 

Grounding is essential for health and copper can help you to ground your body 

Numerous studies suggest that just underneath our feet lies an incredibly powerful resource for health — the ground we walk on. There is mounting evidence to show that contact with the earth keeps us healthier and happier. Grounding can be achieved by either standing or lying directly on the ground outside or via conductive systems (made with copper) that can be used indoors. The ground you walk on may be as essential for your health as getting sunshine, breathing clean air and keeping up exercise routines.

Keeping yourself grounded can be a challenge, most of us aren’t able to spend all day outdoors without shoes on! Even an hour of grounding time can be hard to come by for many. Copper has been proven to be an effective grounding tool when used as a conductor to achieve contact with the earth. This can be used in shoes or in bed frames to keep you grounded as you sleep at night. 

Research indicates that grounding or earthing is very important for our immune system, wound healing, and the fight against inflammation in our bodies. For our bodies to be able to work at optimal efficiency our defense systems require regular recharging —  this may be best done through contact with the electrons on our earth’s surface! 

Copper is a gift from mother nature 

There’s no doubt — Copper is a glorious gift from mother nature. It is not formed in our bodies but we need it for pretty much everything: from brain development to healthy skin! Without copper we simply couldn’t function. Copper can also help us to fight harmful bacteria and viruses that linger in the environment. Copper kills microbes fast and gives them limited chance to adapt their defenses. 

But that’s not all, there’s still more that copper can do for city folk. Our reliance on technology that emits radio and magnetic waves plus our inability to spend sufficient time grounded in nature may see some significant long term health consequences for our urban communities. The use of copper in our daily lives can play a big part in lowering our exposure risks and reconnecting us to the earth. 

Copper could be the answer to keeping our communities healthy. We certainly think so.  

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