Thousands of years ago, Egyptians used copper to sterilize their drinking water and ancient romans, Greeks, and Aztects used it as a natural remedy. Today, copper is back in hospitals because of its unique capacity to destroy germs on contact.
Namely, germs are the reason we get sick when we touch an infected metal or plastic surface. Whether the bus pole or your door knob, there is a germ! So, how can copper help us fight off germs, especially in places like hospitals?
The Research on Copper’s Unique Ability to Destroy Germs
Bill Keevil, a microbiologist at Southampton University in Britain is investigating the germ-killing properties of copper. He bases his investigation on studies which compare the infection rates at hospitals in the US which use copper surfaces and those that do not.
It was concluded that copper alloys reduced the infection rates by 58 percent. Moreover, in a study published in the mBio journal, copper surfaces can destroy the coronavirus 229E which is associated with the SARS and MERS pathogens.
According to Keevil, copper ions or electrically-charged molecules kill viruses by destroying their genetic material. They achieve this through the interaction with oxygen and changing the oxygen molecules. Consequently, the virus cells are unable to mutate.
Keevil explains that ancient civilizations were aware of copper’s germ-destroying properties even though they did not know the science behind them.
Copper Usage Goes Way Back
The use of copper is mentioned in an Egyptian medical book that was written approximately 4000 years ago. There, it is explained how copper was used for wound sterilization and cleaning of drinking water.
Moreover, earlier generations of builders in the US also knew this benefit of copper and this is why copper alloys like brass were often incorporated in building materials. However, modern-day builders stopped using copper and copper alloys as they are more expensive than other building materials.
Nonetheless, Keevil believes that copper can help hospitals save money because their costs of fighting infection will drop down, including the medications and more importantly, people will get sick less often.