24-Jan-2013

Research reveals 'halo' effect of copper surfaces

Researchers have discovered copper has a halo effect on surrounding surfaces

The impact of copper surfaces has been found to have a ‘halo’ effect on surrounding non-copper materials, helping to reduce the presence of bacteria in healthcare environments, new research has found.

Several studies have been published over the past year which show the efficacy of copper and copper alloys in reducing, or in some cases completely eradicating, potentially-deadly bacteria on key touch surfaces in hospitals.

Antimicrobial copper surfaces reduce contamination and thus the risk of acquiring infections from touch surfaces

Now further research carried out in the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU) at Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital in Greece shows that, as well as contamination being 90% lower on copper surfaces, they also exert a ‘halo’ effect, with non-copper surfaces up to 50cm away also exhibiting a reduction of around 70% compared to surfaces not in such close proximity.

The trial ran from July to August 2012 and explored the impact on touch surfaces such as door furniture, work surfaces, drawer tops and handles.

This ‘halo’ effect was first noticed during earlier trials at a US outpatient clinic in 2010, but this is the first time it has been observed in an intensive care unit.

I believe the reduction in contamination on copper surfaces will result in a decrease in infections in the unit, meaning an improvement in the health of the infants we look after

Commenting on the findings, which were announced at the 8th Pan-Hellenic Health Conference of Health, Finance and Policies in Athens last month, Marina Anagnostakou, director of the neonatal ICU, said: “I believe the reduction in contamination on copper surfaces will result in a decrease in infections in the unit, meaning an improvement in the health of the infants we look after.”

Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital director, Emanouil Papasavas, added: “Antimicrobial copper installations, and this scientific proof of their halo effect, are exciting innovations for healthcare practise worldwide. Antimicrobial copper surfaces reduce contamination and thus the risk of acquiring infections from touch surfaces. This, in turn, could reduce operating costs in the unit where they’re installed, which would be an exciting additional benefit.”

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