On February 10, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially approved copper surfaces as having long-term and residual effectiveness against viruses, includingSARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
As a result of EPA’s announcement, products that contain copper alloyswith 95% or more copper can now be sold and distributed with claims that copper can kill certain viruses, including the coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic, when they come into contact with them.
This residual antimicrobial property of copper alloy surfaces provides a unique advantage in the fight against COVID-19 infections.
Here at Sertodo Copper, all of our products are made from 100% recycled copper with seamless construction, which positions our copper goods at the forefront of this battle.
Since 1997, we at Sertodo Copper have long been touting the health benefits due to copper’s oligodynamic effect, as well as how Ayurvedic wisdom behind drinking and storing water in copper containers. However, this approval by the EPA to register copper as having residual claims against viruses is definitely an unprecedented event.
Copper surfaces and its residual effects on viruses and bacteria
It is worth noting that traditional disinfectants only kill viruses and bacteria on the surface at the time that they are used, but copper has the ability to continuously kill pathogens that come in contact with it.
In May 2020, Advanced Materials & Processes magazine published an article describing copper’s potential in curbing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus when copper is used in public spaces.
This recent journal published in The New England Journal of Medicine also studied the stability of the SARS-CoV-2 on aerosols and on various surfaces, including plastic and stainless steel.
The results of the study concluded that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was inactivated in 4 hours on 99.9% copper surfaces, but remained infective for a prolonged period on aerosols, plastic, cardboard and stainless steel.
This finding is proof that copper’s effectivenessas a lethal weapon against SARS-CoV-2 is only beginning to be understood, as more research and studies are conducted.
Copper’s role in the fight against infectious viruses
As mentioned earlier, EPA’s announcement of copper as having a residual effect and the ability to kill pathogens is game changing in more ways than one.
The EPA also granted an amended registration to the Copper Development Association for a viral pathogen claim to be added to the label of Antimicrobial Copper Alloys - Group 1 which is made of at least 95.6 percent copper.
Most importantly, copper alloys as mentioned before can have virus elimination claims of up to 99.9 percent of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
High-percentage copper alloy products were also tested by the Copper Development Association and conducted according to EPA’s protocols. The findings from the testing have demonstrated that copper alloy products can continuously kill viruses that come into contact with them.
Based on testing against tougher-to-kill viruses, the EPA expects these high-percentage copper products to eliminate 99.9 percent of the SARS-Co-V-2 virus within two hours.
With this new knowledge in mind, antimicrobial copper alloys can now be manufactured into a wide range of surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs and public areas.
These residual antimicrobial copper alloy products act as supplements in our fight against COVID-19, therefore they do not replace routine cleaning and disinfection.
Further evidence of copper’s effect on bacteria and viruses
To gather evidence of copper’s biocidal properties against viruses of the Coronaviridae family, this study published on Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease exposed a variety of pathogens including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV to a variety of copper forms such as copper alloy surfaces, ionic copper oxide and sodium copper.
It concluded that “copper is capable to inhibit, inactivate, reduce, and irreversibly destroy coronavirus, influenza virus, and other pathogenic agents in a matter of minutes”.
The use of copper by ancient human civilization dates as far back as the 5th millennium B.C. in Europe and the Middle East.
It was during this time that copper was used as a sterilizing agent, according to Borkow and Gabbay(2009).
Copper was also frequently used to treat wounds, for storing water to make it potable, as well as used by ancient Romans, Greeks, Aztecs and other early civilizations for general hygiene purposes.
Final Takeaway: Copper’s surfaces and its residual effects on viruses
As you can see, copper has been historically used to render medical instruments sterile, as well as providing a safe and clean source of drinking water such as our latest Sertodo Copper Water Filter System. On top of that, our Niagara Copper Water Dispenser is also inspired by the Ayurvedic practice of drinking water.
With the latest approval of copper as being an effective antiviral and antibacterial material, it is clear that copper’s benefits are continuously being backed by science and is emerging as a must-have item in households and public spaces.
Borkow, G., & Gabbay, J. (2009). Copper, an ancient remedy returning to fight microbial, fungal and viral infections.Current Chemical Biology,3(3), 272-278