After many years of independent laboratory testing, followed by additional rigorous testing under U.S. EPA approved protocols, 500 copper alloys (including brass and bronze) were registered as public health antimicrobial products by U.S. EPA on February 29, 2008.
Antimicrobial Copper alloy products can claim to kill 99.9% of disease causing bacteria within two hours.
EPA registration means there is actually a legal U.S. federal government decision acknowledging the efficacy of Antimicrobial Copper products against the 6 following disease-causing bacteria:
- E. coli O157:H7, a food-borne pathogen that has been associated with large-scale food recalls;
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the most virulent strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a constant culprit to patient safety and quality in healthcare environments;
- Staphylococcus aureus, the most common of all bacterial staphylococcus (i.e. staph) infections that can cause life-threatening diseases, including pneumonia and meningitis;
- Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), an antibiotic resistant organism responsible for 4% of all Healthcare-Associated Infection;
- Enterobacter aerogenes, a pathogenic bacterium commonly found in hospitals that causes opportunistic skin infections and impacts other body tissues; and,
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that infects the pulmonary tracts, urinary tracts, blood, and skin of immunocompromised individuals.
Antimicrobial Copper alloys are solid surface materials. This is unlike many traditional infection control products marketed with public health claims. These products are typically gases, liquids, sprays, and concentrated powders.
Antimicrobial Copper products can only be sold by registered manufacturers using registered copper alloys. View a complete list of U.S. EPA registered copper alloys.
For more information on EPA registration requirements for suppliers and product manufacturers, please visit: EPA Registration - Getting Started.
To review the complete list of EPA approved uses for Antimicrobial Copper, please read: EPA Approved Uses
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.
Some specific 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 important that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.
*Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: MRSA, VRE, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. Antimicrobial copper surfaces are a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices and have been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but do not necessarily prevent cross contamination or infections; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices.