Why architects and designers need to know about Antimicrobial Copper

It’s a new way of thinking, a different mindset: specifying an effective antimicrobial material for hygiene-sensitive environments to help break the chain of infection and curb the spread of disease.

Antimicrobial Copper is shorthand for over 500 copper alloys, including brasses, bronzes and copper-nickels, with proven efficacy against the organisms threatening public health today, including so-called hospital superbugs, like MRSA, norovirus and E.coli. While such pathogens can survive on other materials for days, weeks, even months, they are rapidly destroyed on Antimicrobial Copper surfaces. Antimicrobial Copper surfaces work continuously – day and night – between touches and between cleans, contributing towards a more hygienic environment and improving patient safety.

Antimicrobial Copper alloys are cost-effective and durable, and available in a range of colours to suit all design themes, from the rich reds of the high coppers through the warm golden-yellows of the brasses to the silvery-whites of the nickel silvers. These colour choices can help designers create a warmer, more soothing, healing environment and help reduce contamination and the risk of infection.

The interior elements and products that could benefit from copper's antimicrobial properties include worktops, banisters, lift interiors (particularly control panels), door handles and push plates, bathroom fittings such as taps, grab rails and even toilet seats. Specialist equipment can be designed or upgraded by considering the touch surfaces and using copper alloys for these. Upgrading existing installations provides an opportunity to engage with your clients again. The antimicrobial properties are intrinsic to the metal so last the lifetime of the product, even if subject to knocking and scratching, and offer continuous protection against disease-causing germs. At end of life, products are 100% recyclable and so contribute towards sustainable design.

This website provides information on the scientific proof from laboratory and clinical trials, details of which components should be upgraded to Antimicrobial Copper, a directory of products and services, and installation case studies from around the world.

Take the RIBA-accredited CPD training module, which is appropriate for all designers, to further your understanding and gain 2 hours' of CPD points. A self-assessment link allows you to test your knowledge and print a certificate.

View the Animicrobial Copper Alloys - Guidance on Selection brochure to further your understanding about the copper alloy families, and order samples.

Copper and copper alloys are engineering materials that are durable, colourful and recyclable and are widely available in various product forms suitable for a range of manufacturing purposes. Copper and its alloys offer a suite of materials for designers of functional, sustainable and cost-effective products.

Copper and certain copper alloys have intrinsic antimicrobial properties (so-called ‘Antimicrobial Copper’) and products made from these materials have an additional, secondary benefit of contributing to hygienic design. Products made from Antimicrobial Copper are a supplement to, not a substitute for standard infection control practices. It is essential that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.

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