We Have The Most Powerful Weapon

To expand the use of copper; It is of great importance in the prevention of new epidemics, viruses and pandemics that we will encounter in the future.

During the cholera epidemic in Paris in 1852, Doctor Victor Burg, who visited the copper enterprises in the city, realized that 200 people working here were not affected by the epidemic and developed immunity against infectious diseases. Then he began to investigate the relationship between the diseases of people working in copper enterprises, both in Paris and in many cities around the world.

Unlike Doctor Burg, today; It is known in the scientific world that copper has antibacterial properties and kills bacteria such as norovirus, MRSA and staphylococcus. Bacteria and viruses that come into contact with copper die within minutes.

So how does this happen?

When a bacteria or virus comes into contact with the copper face, the copper releases ions, which are electrically charged particles. These ions, in turn, destroy the DNA and RNA in bacteria, preventing the survival of these microorganisms. Viruses and bacteria that have lost their DNA and RNA cannot mutate against copper and become more resistant. Therefore; While microorganisms that make people sick can live on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for days, they disappear within hours on copper surfaces.

In fact, the antibacterial properties of copper and its medicinal use date back to 2600 BC. According to the Edwin Smith Papyrus, which was written during this period and is known as the first medical book, copper was used to clean chest wounds and drinking water. For centuries in India, people drank water from copper vessels.

Why did we stop using copper?

Many objects we see around us today are made of stainless steel or plastic. These materials look cleaner and brighter than copper and are easier to clean. Objects made of copper also cause a dirty appearance, as copper easily tarnishes. It is quite costly to polish these objects periodically. But scientists say that copper continues to kill microbes on its surface, even if it turns color or even turns green.

The use of copper reduces germs by 83%.

In 2012, Michael Schmidt, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology working on copper at the University of South Carolina Medicine, and his colleagues conducted a study on the use of copper in three different health centers in the United States. First of all, they determined which objects patients and their relatives came into contact with most in these centers. These objects; bed borders, door handles, visitor seats, etc. were surfaces that everyone often touched. By coating them with copper, the researchers found that microbes were reduced by 83%.

In another study conducted in 2015, it was seen that the infection rate in three separate hospitals decreased by 58% after the use of copper.

Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Southampton in England, states that copper surfaces can be effective in reducing diseases such as SARS-CoV2, the new coronavirus, which are transmitted from person to person through respiratory tract. He emphasizes that the use of copper in places where people are together such as hospitals, buses, subways, airports and gyms is important in the fight against epidemics. Researchers working on SARS-CoV2 (Kovid-19) also reached results that would confirm Keevil's suggestion: The viruses that cause Kovid-19 can survive up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, while they live on copper surfaces for a maximum of four hours.

Copper; Aluminum is not preferred because it is more expensive than plastic and stainless steel. However, considering that infectious diseases cost the health system $45 billion annually in the United States alone and cause 90,000 deaths, we can say that the use of copper will both reduce the death rate and provide great savings.

More for the curious:

1. https://bit.ly/2Uth1EU

2. https://bit.ly/2QJfnOy

About the Author: 

Selin Akbaş – Be People Editor

Selin Akbaş, who completed her undergraduate education at Boğaziçi University, Department of History, did journalism internships at Medyascope.tv and Thomson Reuters News Agency during her university years, and worked as a copywriter for various blogs. He has been working in the field of strategic content production and copywriting as one of the editors of Fabrika Creative since December 2019.

Selin Akbaş

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