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Data Input Devices Manufactured with CuVerro® Bactericidal Copper

Frequently Asked Questions

Antimicrobial Copper

Frequently Asked Questions About The Most Effective Touch Surface.

American Journal of Infection Control Article 2016 (PDF)

Copper alloy surfaces sustain terminal cleaning levels in a rural hospital




What is Antimicrobial Copper?

Antimicrobial Copper kills bacteria*. Surfaces made of these solid, copper-based metals, or alloys continuously kill bacteria that cause infections. It an inherent quality of the metal and the only solid touch surface proven to have this characteristic.

Which bacteria (pathogens) have Antimicrobial Copper alloys been proven to kill?

Laboratory studies conducted under EPA-approved protocols have proven that, within two hours of contact, Antimicrobial Copper' kills greater than 99.9% the following disease-causing bacteria: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE),Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

How quickly does Antimicrobial Copper kill Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA)?

Antimicrobial Copper continuously kills greater than 99.9% of MRSA within two hours of exposure.

How can Antimicrobial Copper be used to kill bacteria that cause infections?

The use of Antimicrobial Copper for frequently touched hospital surfaces such as door and furniture hardware, bed rails, IV poles, nurses' call buttons, dispensers, faucets, sinks and work stations can help reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria* in patient rooms

In addition to frequently touched surfaces in hospitals, Antimicrobial Copper may be used in other settings such as senior residences, ambulatory care facilities, public transportation, schools, gyms, and public housing.

How does copper kill pathogens?

Copper is an essential nutrient for bacteria, but in high doses, it harms bacterial cells. The exact mechanism by which copper kills bacteria is still being researched, however, several theories exist and are being studied. They include:

  • Cause leakage of potassium or glutamate through the outer membrane of bacteria
  • Disturb osmotic balance
  • Bind to proteins that do not require copper
  • Cause oxidative stress by generating hydrogen peroxide

There are over 350 alloys that are EPA-registered as antimicrobial copper. These include pure copper, high coppers, brasses, bronzes, copper-nickels and copper-nickel-zincs. The latter are sometimes referred to as nickel silvers because of their shiny white color, even though they contain no silver.

There are no copper coatings that are registered and effective as Antimicrobial Copper. In addition only solid, uncoated copper and copper alloys can claim to be antimicrobial.

What does the EPA registration mean?

On February 29, 2008, the EPA registered 275 copper alloys with public health claims. The number of registered alloys has since increased to 352.

Registration of Antimicrobial Copper is the first time the EPA recognized a solid material for its continuous antimicrobial properties and permitted public health claims to be made about its use for touch surfaces.

What are the public health claims being permitted by the EPA?

Based on rigourous study conducted under EPA protocols, Antimicrobial Copper:

  • Continuously reduces bacterial* contamination, achieving 99.9% reduction within two hours of exposure.
  • Kills greater than 99.9% of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria* within two hours of exposure.
  • Delivers continuous and ongoing antibacterial* action, remaining effective in killing greater than 99.9% of bacteria* within two hours.
  • Kills greater than 99.9% of bacteria* within two hours, and continues to kill more than 99% of bacteria* even after repeated contamination.
  • Helps inhibit the buildup and growth of bacteria* within two hours of exposure between routine cleaning and sanitizing steps.

These health claim apply when Antimicrobial Surfaces are cleaned regularly.

Do Antimicrobial Copper surfaces need to be cleaned?

Antimicrobial Copper surfaces need to be cleaned; they are a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control and hygienic practices; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices, including those practices related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.

Don't copper alloys tarnish? What about tarnishing?

Some Antimicrobial Copper alloys, those with a higher percentage of copper,  tarnish to varying degrees, but are still effectively killing bacteria*.

How is Antimicrobial Copper superior to other antimicrobial surfaces?

Antimicrobial Copper is the only class of solid antimicrobial surfaces registered by the EPA to make public health claims.

Antimicrobial Copper is inherently antimicrobial through and through. Even when surfaces made of these materials are scratched their antimicrobial efficacy continues to work--they won't wear away like coatings or other treatments can.

What about silver?

Silver-containing coatings claim to be effective, but unlike Antimicrobial Copper, no silver-containing coating has been registered by the EPA with public health claims. Extensive laboratory testing is required to make public health claims. Products must prove that they effectively kill bacteria that pose a threat to human health and safety.

Silver-containing coatings rely on a treated article exemption. This form of EPA registration only permits products to claim that the active ingredient protects the product itself from degradation and odor caused by non-specific organisms. No scientific data on antimicrobial efficacy is required to obtain this registration.

*Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, CuVerro surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli O157:H7, and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE). The use of CuVerro® bactericidal copper products is a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices, including those practices related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces. This surface has been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but it does not necessarily prevent cross contamination. CuVerro® is a registered trademark of GBC Metals, LLC and is used with permission (OT-0003-1410). See www.CuVerro.com for more details.