Copper inhibits the growth of harmful pathogens
(29 September, 2010) The new medical centre Mehiläinen in Pori is one of the first healthcare facilities in Finland to capitalize on the antimicrobial properties of copper. Opened in early September, the newly renovated facility introduces floor drains and their covers made of copper. Copper has been proven by independent lab test results to be effective in eliminating more than 99.9 percent of bacterial contamination within two hours of exposure.
In addition to the well-known properties of copper, including electrical and thermal conductivity and recyclability, copper also offers a lesser-known benefit – it is naturally antimicrobial. The unit manager of the Mehiläinen medical center in Pori and ear, nose and throat specialist Harri Reunanen is familiar with the fundamental characteristic of copper and wanted to exploit this intrinsic trait further in the renovation of the new facility. Coincidentally, the local Luvata facility in Pori had similar ideas and together the project was taken forward with the use of antimicrobial copper in the floor drains and the lids that go on top. Floor drain manufacturer Vemta joined the efforts to produce these products from the Luvata supplied antimicrobial copper.
"As bacteria evolve and become more resistant to treatment, hospital-acquired infections will be an increasing problem for the health sector. As a result, more and more attention will be paid toward the prevention of the spread of these harmful fungal and microbial organisms. The tests results of the antimicrobial effectiveness of copper are very convincing,” says doctor Harri Reunanen. "We chose copper specifically for floor drains, because the moist environment is conducive to growing bacteria.” In the medical centre the copper drains can be found in the toilet and equipment maintenance facilities. Infection prevention efforts have been escalated in other ways too, such as adding antimicrobial nano coating to door handles and call buttons and silver treatments to the microfiber clothes used by the cleaning service SOL.
Copper is an effective antimicrobial touch surface material when the copper level in the alloy exceeds 60 percent. Copper is particularly suitable and visually appealing for such uses as rails, instrument trays, table levels, sinks, and door handles.
International scientific communities have studied the antimicrobial properties of copper extensively and the results are very positive. A study performed at the West Finland Deacony Rehabilitation Center in Pori, Finland tested the use of copper used for door handles, support rails and floor drain grating. Copper as the benchmark was compared with inter alia stainless steel. "The results showed copper acting quickly and effectively. The copper and brass items were microbiologically cleaner compared with the other material surfaces,” says Head of laboratory Kirsi Laitinen from the Hjelt Institute laboratory of hygiene and microbiology that was responsible for the analysis of the samples.
"We don’t often come to think of it, but copper’s antimicrobial properties have been used since ancient times. For decades public door handles and coins have been made from copper or its alloy," says Pia Voutilainen from Scandinavian Copper Development Association SCDA. "For example an Irish hospital has changed all 250 door handles to copper to help prevent nosocomial infections. Additional clinical tests are being done all around the world. The spread of bacteria and viruses is a growing global concern, while the naturally occurring antimicrobial properties of copper may be the key to resisting them."
- End –
For more information, please contact:
Dr Harri Reunanen, Unit Manager
Tel: +358 44 722 2049
Kirsi Laitinen, Head of Laboratory
Tel: +358 50 340 1710
Pia Voutilainen, Director
Scandinavian Copper Development Association
Tel: +358 40 5900 494
The Mehiläinen Group is the best-known and top-rated provider of private healthcare and social services in Finland. Mehiläinen's nationwide network offers a wide portfolio of social and healthcare services for private, corporate and municipal customers. The company was established in 1909 and has about 1700 employees and 1900 physicians. In 2009, the Mehiläinen Group posted turnover of EUR 167 million. Mehiläinen is part of the Nordic healthcare group Ambea, one of the largest providers of health and nursing services in Europe.
Luvata is the leading international metals supplier of solutions, services, components and materials for manufacturing and construction. Luvata’s solutions are used in industries such as renewable energy, power generation, architecture, automotive, transport, medicine, air-conditioning, industrial refrigeration, consumer products and construction. The company’s continued success is attributed to its longevity, technological excellence and strategy of building partnerships beyond metals. Employing over 7,000 staff in 18 countries, Luvata works in partnership with customers such as Siemens, Toyota, CERN, Shaaz, and DWD International.
***Please note that, since the sale of the Rolled Products division to Aurubis on 1 September 2011, enquiries concerning this product should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.***