The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the registration of naturally antimicrobial copper alloys as a supplement to standard preventative measures in eliminating specific disease-causing bacteria. The Copper Development Association says copper is the first solid surface material to receive this type of EPA registration, which is supported by extensive antimicrobial efficacy testing.
Independent laboratory tests confirmed that copper alloys eliminate more than 99.9% of bacterial contamination within two hours of exposure. 317 copper alloys were registered as antimicrobial materials that kill disease-causing bacteria. Copper, including brass and bronze, proved to be particularly effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
"Now that the EPA has granted copper official status as an antimicrobial agent, we have only scratched the surface of possible copper applications directly targeted at improving public health," said Warren Bartel, senior vice-president and senior advisor for copper supplier Luvata Group. "When considering the cost of preventative measures or treatment for these diseases, copper may likely become the low cost, environmentally friendly solution."
Cleaning a surface does not eliminate all bacteria. Copper alloys, however, continually eliminate bacteria. The intrinsic antimicrobial properties of copper alloys cannot wear off or be removed. Homogeneous and solid copper alloys therefore provide a lifetime of efficacy and durability. Copper alloys are the first and only commercially available solid-surface material with EPA public health registration, allowing manufacturers to claim antimicrobial efficacy.
The registration permits the marketing of antimicrobial copper alloy products with public health claims and was granted to the Copper Development Association (CDA) based on tests conducted at a laboratory working under EPA-approved Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). Starting with 3,000 copper alloy samples of copper, cartridge brass, phosphor bronze, copper nickel and nickel silver, the EPA tested each sample's efficacy as a sanitizer, its residual self-sanitizing activity, and its continuous reduction of bacterial contaminants. The EPA confirmed efficacy of all three test.
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