Copper materializes as post-COVID style
Antimicrobial clothes to protect against sickness, discomfort Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – May 27, 2020
Last updated 7/10/2022 at 2:36pm
From facemasks to "Full Metal Jackets", virus killing copper clothing is an emerging fashion trend for people looking to protect themselves as they venture out from the COVID-19 lockdown.
Copper has been used to ward off illnesses for centuries and recent scientific research has confirmed that coronavirus and other microbes do not live long on copper surfaces.
Now, clothing companies are weaving this antiviral metal into wearable textiles.
United Kingdom-based Copper Clothing Ltd. has begun a trend of fashion and practical apparel using copper infused fabrics to help combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Tests in 2014 found that Copper Clothing's copper-infused fabric effectively fought bovine coronavirus, a surrogate of human coronavirus, killing 99.99% of the virus within the 10-minute timeframe of the test.
While this has not been currently tested on the new strain of COVID-19, given copper's natural ability to destroy pathogens and their reproductive blueprints, it should work against any virus.
"There's no chance of mutation or evolution because all the genes are being destroyed," said University of Southampton Professor Bill Keevil.
In addition to protection gear such as face masks and gloves, Copper Clothing has an incredibly diverse selection of apparel infused with virus killing copper.
A variety of 5-toed socks and compression socks, men's boxer shorts as well as women's briefs and panties and even a uniform of copper infused pajamas, for both ladies and gents.
Outside their worn collection, Copper Clothing offers sheets and blankets with their copper infused technology and even extends to the family's best friend, with a copper infused pet bed!
Another company, Vollebak, has taken a different approach. While similarly utilizing copper grafted into fabrics, their apparel is of a more rugged nature.
T-shirts, hoods, jackets and coats, the design of Vollebak appears like right out of a stylized young adult dystopian movie, providing the protection of copper with the natural durable look of metal. One such offering is Full Metal Jacket, a highly waterproof, windproof, and breathable technical jacket with nearly seven miles of copper woven in.
"While it might look like it's come from another planet, it's designed to be worn like a normal jacket," said Vollebak co-founder Nick Tidball. "And it doesn't feel like you're wearing metal – the copper is woven into a flexible yarn and the jacket is fleece-lined, so it's comfortable enough to be worn every day."
Though Full Metal Jacket does provide a coronavirus fighting outer layer for wearers, Vollebak was developing the copper clothing concept well before the pandemic.
"One of the challenges we were already exploring when COVID-19 hit was the role clothing can play in protecting against disease in remote environments on Earth as well as up in space where astronauts' immune systems are already compromised," said Tidball.
While Vollebak would like to see the first people on Mars donning its clothes, making sure humans survive on Earth first, and understanding how to avoid taking diseases from one planet to the next, is a good start.
Copper infused clothes
The popularity of copper infused clothing dates back to 2004, marketed to athletes to help them combat aches and pains and was further developed to eliminate odors.
Though the validity of pain treatment has never been verified, there has been found efficacy with odor and this comes from the nature of the copper infused fabrics.
Copper ions are embedded into the fabric, often from a chemical washing process, and popularly used in compression-based materials, such as nylon, for a tighter fit.
Using an analogy of sweaty feet, foot odor does not come from your feet but what your feet are wearing.
It is not sweat that causes odor but bacteria and when the copper comes into contact with your skin, copper salts transfer from the copper fabric and are absorbed by the skin.
As copper has a natural tendency to kill bacteria, it has been found to be effective to eliminate foot odor.
With face masks and gloves, the copper absorbed into the skin, will eliminate existing germs already on your body and with any newly introduced microorganisms, they will be prevented from reaching your skin and die from the copper as well.
Copper effectively kills a broad spectrum of viruses, bacteria and fungus, this is due to exposure from the copper ions that are emitted from the fabric.
Working in collaboration with several research foundations, one of which being the University of Southampton, Copper Clothing discovered that the initial kill rate, within the first 30-40 minutes of contact, on copper nylon fabric was found to be faster than on 100% copper metal.
As the durability of clothing utilizing copper was in question, the initial sample when unwashed contained 51 parts per million. The first sample when washed 40 times at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it was found that the number had dropped to only 49 ppm, proving the effectiveness of the copper fabric would last the lifetime of the product.
Copper is vital to life
Copper's ability to make food and water safe was observed millennia before it was recognized that microorganisms existed.
Citizens of the early Roman Empire used copper piping to improve public hygiene, astutely observing that water delivered through copper was safe to drink and that copper utensils and cookware helped to prevent the spread of disease.
Much later, after microbes were discovered and the germ theory linked bacteria and other microorganisms to infection and disease, scientists began to understand how copper's antimicrobial properties could be harnessed to provide additional benefits.
Today, the antimicrobial uses of copper have been expanded to include fungicides, pesticides, antimicrobial medicines, oral hygiene products, hygienic medical devices, and antiseptics.
Copper is one of a relatively small group of metallic elements which are essential to human health.
These elements, along with amino and fatty acids as well as vitamins, are required for normal metabolic processes.
However, as the body cannot synthesize copper, the human diet must supply regular amounts for absorption.
Copper assists in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, it is involved in forming pigments in your body's natural hair color.
It is also involved in the enzymes for digestion, protein metabolism and in the healing processes necessary for proper bone formation and maintenance, it is also essential for the RNA (Ribonucleic acid) in all of your cells.
Without copper your body cannot make new cells. It is also involved in the formation of elastin, the healthy, youthful skin and chief component of the elastic muscle fibers throughout the body.
Until recently, it was generally believed that most people consumed adequate quantities of copper.
However, modern research has shown that only 25% of the U.S. population consumes the amount of copper a day to be adequate as estimated by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences.
It is now recommended by The National Research Council that a minimum daily intake of 2 milligrams per day of copper for adults is required.
Copper can be found in green leafy vegetables, salads, almonds, whole-grain products, liver, seafood, avocados, barley, garlic, nuts, beets, and lentils, yet the richest source of copper can be found in oysters.
Besides its incredible potency to fend off sickness, copper is something everyone needs. In our daily lives we see and use copper more than we realize so a logical step would be to continue using this incredible resource, and what better way than to wear it.
Considering copper's fundamental virus fighting properties, coupled with heightened concerns over COVID-19 and other diseases, copper infused masks, gloves and even underwear may be the fashion trend of a world fighting one pandemic and looking to prevent the next.