Copper kills bacteria on transit surfaces
BC pilot shows copper 99.9% effective on high-touch surfaces Metal Tech News – March 4, 2021
Last updated 7/10/2022 at 3:08pm
Coating high-touch public transit surfaces with a layer of copper is a highly effective way to kill bacteria on busses, subways, trains, and other metropolitan transport, according to the results from a five-week pilot carried out on TransLink busses and SkyTrain cars in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Funded by Teck Resources Ltd., a Vancouver-based mining company, the copper-surface pilot is a first of its kind in North America. Based on sample-testing, the trial concludes that select copper products on transit are durable and kill up to 99.9% of all bacteria within one hour of contacting the surface.
"These results reinforce the effectiveness of copper's antimicrobial properties in killing germs and contributing to better public health," said Teck Resources President and CEO Don Lindsay.
Copper is the only solid metal touch surface registered as a public health product by Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, proven to naturally eliminate up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.
In a previous study that is part of Teck's ongoing Copper & Health program, the Vancouver Coastal Hospital confirmed copper's durability and infection control benefits in a hospital setting.
Results from this and other previous studies that show copper is both durable and effective at killing viruses and bacteria is what prompted TransLink to launch the copper pilot program as part of its response to COVID-19.
Vancouver Coastal Health was a partner and carried out the microbiological sampling during the copper transit pilot.
"This project has been an incredible opportunity for our team to export our expertise and experience on self-disinfecting materials from the health care setting to our community," said Dr. Marthe Charles, a medical microbiologist at Vancouver Coastal Health. "We were pleased to see that the results from the trial were in line with our previous studies in the hospital setting and are excited to further our understanding of the application of copper and its antimicrobial properties on public transit."
The University of British Columbia, another partner in the copper pilot, carried out the durability testing.
Both the antimicrobial and durability performance of copper met TransLink's hopes as it seeks better ways to safeguard the health of passengers.
"We are excited about the positive results in the first phase of our copper pilot and look forward to finding out more about copper's impact on viruses such as the ones that cause COVID-19 in the pilot's second phase," said TransLink interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo. "This research could help us, other transit agencies, and anyone with surfaces in shared public spaces keep high-touch areas as clean as possible."
To be launched in the coming months, the second phase of the pilot will verify the initial results by equipping additional transit vehicles with copper.
Teck says it will help support this expanded program.
"Through our Copper & Health program, Teck has been working with healthcare professionals, academia, and others to help make communities safer with copper," said Lindsay. "We look forward to continuing to work with TransLink and all the partners and working to expand the use of copper on public high-touch surfaces to protect human health."