Evidence of the bug-busting capabilities of copper gathers pace

Brazilian airport sets standards for infection control in public places

As evidence of the efficacy of copper as an antimicrobial metal increases, its use in large public buildings gathers pace with one of Brazil’s busiest airports installing copper touch surfaces on handrails and counters.

Because around 80% of infections are spread by touch, the move is intended to help protect the health of travellers by reducing the risk of transferring germs from touch surfaces to hands. And it provides further encouragement for other facilities such as hospitals and health centres to follow suit.

Copper rapidly kills bacteria, viruses and fungi that settle on its surface, and the metal confers this antimicrobial ability to many of its alloys, including brasses, bronzes and copper nickels.

Congonhas Airport in São Paulo opened new parking areas in December 2011, handling around 4,000 vehicles and 10,000 people every day. The airport seized the opportunity to upgrade handrails, counter tops and elevator guardrails to antimicrobial copper, and microbial testing of the surfaces has already shown a significant reduction in contamination.

Congonhas Airport installs copper touch surfaces in new parking areas

Initial tests revealed residual bacterial contamination levels of less than 10 colony forming units (CFUs) per square centimetre. On equivalent surfaces made of stainless steel, this figure could be as high as 800 CFUs.

In addition to a very modern and striking aesthetic, copper is continuously reducing the level of contamination – in between normal cleaning procedures – and helping to reduce the risk of travellers exchanging infections as they pass through the airport.

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