Copper grab rails & antimicrobial grab rails
Copper grab rails supporting the usefulness of antimicrobial copper surfaces in the contact-killing of influenza viruses. Research suggests that the virus’s lipid membrane becomes overwhelmed by the copper, similar to a microbial kill mechanism.
The epidemiology of nosocomial (prior existing) pathogens is a cause of concern in hospitals due to the possibility of increased risk of infection. Especially the influenza viruses that we are faced with on a regular basis. Therefore copper grab rails are a good option.
Research exists supporting the role of copper grab rail surfaces as an antimicrobial material . A correlation is shown between the increase in copper content and the increased contact-killing of E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus .
Cleaning Copper Grab Rails
The spread of bacteria and viruses on hospital surfaces, including medical equipment, copper grab rails, work stations, and patient rooms is well documented . The addition of self-disinfecting surfaces in conjunction with required cleaning practices further prevents the spread of infectious diseases .
Further copper antimicrobial surfaces are particularly useful in instances where regular and rosterd cleaning and disinfecting is not possible.
Manufacturing copper rails
Making and installing copper fittings is no more expensive than using materials such as stainless steel which, ironically, is considered easier to keep clean due to its bright surface. However, we know that these are covered in microscopic indentations and scratches from regular wear and tear, leaving valleys for superbugs and viruses to reside in and escape cleaning procedures.
Cleaning happens at best once a day, while copper works 24/7 so it is surely an important adjunct in the fight to keep the built environment clean.
The importance of installing copper fittings has been recognised in France where various hospitals are now installing copper. Finally, at least some nations of the world are waking up to this simple approach to control infection, let’s hope others are quick to follow suit.
Oxidising of Copper grab rails
As we all know copper oxidises and tarnishes ( a layer of patina) and certainly has the nature of needing a good polish every now and again. One thing to bear in mind is , the surface of the copper grab rails can only withstand a certain amount of polishing. Metal polish such as Brasso removes a minute layer of the copper every tine it is used.
Copper is amazing
Research describes how copper grab rails exhibit these impressive properties. The process involves the release of copper ions (electrically charged particles) when microbes, transferred by touching, sneezing or vomiting, land on the copper surface.
The ions prevent cell respiration, punch holes in the bacterial cell membrane or disrupt the viral coat, and destroy the DNA and RNA inside.
This means that no mutation can occur – preventing the microbe from developing resistance to copper grab rails. Global concern is growing over antimicrobial resistance and the risk of death that it presents from common infections in even minor operations.
Transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from resistant bacteria to other bacteria is also stopped because the genes themselves are destroyed. These destructive properties are enhanced by the bacteria since they release small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
This reacts with the copper ions to form ferociously reactive oxygen, which also attacks and damages the microbes in multiple areas.
All of these laboratory studies have been translated into the healthcare environment. Studies worldwide have shown that, with routine cleaning, when copper alloy is used on regularly touched copper grab rails in busy wards and intensive care units, there is up to a 90% reduction in the numbers of live bacteria on their surfaces.
This includes bed rails, chair arms, call buttons, over-bed tables, IV poles, taps and door handles.
Studies in three hospital intensive care units in the US also showed a remarkable 58% reduction in infection rates. So, unsurprisingly, copper alloy touch surfaces are now being deployed worldwide in airports, trains, train stations, busses, restaurant kitchens and gyms.
The new Francis Crick Institute in London is kitted out in copper alloys, supporting its foresight and vision as a world-leading research centre for the public good.
Some common viruses have no vaccine available, such as the winter vomiting virus (norovirus) – the scourge of cruise ships. Others, such as influenza, mutate so rapidly that it is difficult for vaccines to keep up – and they need to be reformulated annually. Copper surfaces however wipe them out regardless of year-on-year changes in the microbes.