Copper is a veritable machine for killing microorganisms … Covid-19 included. Companies now offer masks, gloves or door handles made of this metal.
CORONAVIRUS – 24 hours on cardboard, 48 hours on plastic, several days on iron … and less than 4 hours on copper. If we already knew that facing coronavirus, not all surfaces are created equal, the red metal is so effective that it places it well above everyday materials. Terrific antiseptic properties that apply to all microorganisms, and which some companies are starting to use as a marketing argument.
Nothing to do, this element that we find in so many objects, generally in the form of alloy in association with another metal like zinc or tin, is the strongest. Not only against Covid-19, but also other viruses, such as avian flu (H1N1) or even MERS respiratory syndrome: the effect is almost immediate, sometimes “exploding” the microorganism in just a few minutes, to use the words of Bill Keevil, microbiologist at the University of Southampton (Great Britain).
Copper atoms that don’t let anything pass
Viruses, microbes, bacteria … copper therefore has a unique self-cleaning property, even more than heavy metals like gold and silver, also known for their antiseptic capacity. A combativeness mainly due to its atomic composition: each copper atom contains a free electron, which oxidizes the molecules of the micro-organism, damaging it greatly.
Even then, copper is not finished with the undesirable: its ions act like real small missiles, damaging the envelope of any microbe or other organism that comes to rub it. Once exposed, it’s the RNA’s turn to undergo the lethal onslaught of electrons: after such treatment, almost nothing remains. In the 2015 study by Bill Keevil on a coronavirus cousin to the Covid-19, it only takes 20 minutes spent on an alloy made of 95% copper for a dose of contagious liquid to be completely destroyed.
This purifying action of the conductive metal is nothing new: from the Phoenicians treating war wounds with bronze, an alloy of copper, to avoid infections, up to modern medical instruments made with the same metal, this advantage has been used by many cultures for a long time without always being understood.
A market for daring entrepreneurs
If today, studies continue to better understand how copper is such a quiet force in the face of biological invaders, current events are pushing entrepreneurs to put forward copper as an anti-Covid-19 panacea. At a time when antibacterial fluid is scarce and entire aircraft carriers need to be disinfected, the marketing argument for a self-cleaning surface is second to none.
In Australia, a company in Darwin, in the north of the country, offers its customers to 3D print locks and door handles coated with a copper alloy. With frankly audacious marketing, the company even claims to offer this service after having “discovered” for itself the antimicrobial properties of the precious metal …
In Chile and Japan, some companies now offer masks and protective gloves with a layer of copper, for maximum sterilization. Same concern not to transmit the virus for this Texan university, whose researchers have created copper stickers, for sale to the general public, to place on door handles and other surfaces touched daily.
All of these products, based on solid research and long-proven effects, can help reduce the chances of transporting the virus from one place to another via furniture or an object. They do not in any way dispense with disinfecting and cleaning shared surfaces, nor obviously, to wash your hands frequently and to respect social distancing.