Copper destroys viruses and bacteria. Why isn’t it everywhere?
Copper is antimicrobial, killing bacteria and viruses, sometimes within minutes.
Studies show that it is capable of destroying the germs that most endanger our lives. It has been shown to kill a long list of microbes, including norovirus, MRSA, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, virulent E. coli strains that cause foodborne illnesses and coronaviruses – probably including COVID-19.
If copper was used more often in hospitals, where 1 in 31 people get hospital infections or in high-traffic areas – it could play an invaluable role in public health, said Michael Schmidt, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of Medicine. Carolina, who studies copper. And yet, copper is strangely absent from our public places, health facilities, and homes.
“We have moved away from copper beds, copper fences and door handles of copper, stainless steel, plastic, and aluminum.”
Any of the germs that make us sick can live on hard surfaces for up to four or five days. When we touch these surfaces, germs can infiltrate our bodies through our nose, mouth or eyes and infect us.
On copper surfaces, bacteria and viruses die. When a microbe descends on a copper surface, the copper emits ions, which are electrically charged particles. Copper ions eject through the outer membranes and destroy the entire cell, including DNA or RNA inside. Because their DNA and RNA are destroyed, it also means that the bacteria or virus cannot mutate and become resistant to copper, or transmit genes (such as antibiotic resistance) to other microbes.
Before people even knew about the types of bacteria and viruses, they knew that copper could – somehow – prevent them from spreading.
According to the 2019 World Book of Copper, it looks like copper will not run out in the near future.
Copper is one of the most recycled of all metals – almost all copper can be recycled and not lose any of its properties.
Some places around the world have started to use copper. In Chile, a theme park called Fantasyland has replaced many of the ordinary copper surfaces. At Atlanta Airport, 50 water bottling stations are now made of copper, moreover, Professor Schmidt thinks it should be more widespread.