Copper has been recognised as a hygienic material since the dawn of civilisation and, in the last two centuries, the anecdotal evidence has been supported by scientific research showing that copper has rapid and broad spectrum antimicrobial efficacy against harmful pathogens - bacteria, moulds, algae, fungi and viruses.
Microbes weren't discovered until the 19th Century but copper's hygienic properties were well known through experience and tradition. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Aztecs used copper compounds for the treatment of disease and good hygiene. Egyptians used copper as a sterilisation agent for drinking water and wounds. Hippocrates treated open wounds and skin irritations with copper. The Romans catalogued numerous medicinal uses for copper for various diseases. The Aztecs treated sore throats with copper, while Persia and India applied copper to treat boils, eye infections and venereal ulcers. Once the germ theory of infection linked bacteria and other microorganisms to infection and disease, scientists began to understand how copper's antimicrobial property could be harnessed to provide additional benefits.
The latest scientific research demonstrates copper's antimicrobial effect on a range of disease-causing organisms including MRSA, Clostridium difficile, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Influenza A (H1N1) and Aspergillus niger, indicating a role for copper in applications where control of these germs would be beneficial.
Replacing frequently touched surfaces with copper or high-copper alloys such as brasses and bronzes, which are naturally antimicrobial, could be an important infection control measure and complement other measures such as hand washing, patient screening and isolation, and improved cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces in hospitals/care homes which could be made from copper or copper alloy include: door handles, push plates, light switches, bed rails, grab rails, intravenous poles, dispensers (alcohol gel, paper towel, soap), dressing trolleys, counter and table tops. These touch surfaces are all potential reservoirs of infection, and reducing the number of live germs on these surfaces could help in controlling the spread of MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections.
Tests completed in 2012 have shown that Copper applied finishes in the form of 'sCUtum ™' have recently been INDEPENDENTLY tested by BSI ,UKAS ,ISO 9001 (2008) laboratories and microbiologists in clinical trials. The results have shown that sCUtum ™ copper has exceptional antibacterial properties.
In addition the sCUtum ™ copper matrix accepts applied anti-microbial gels that when added to sCUtums ™ micro porous substrate offer additional microbial protection than that offered by extruded copper items