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My firm designs medical facilities. The antimicrobial effect of copper was brought to our attention a few years back, and there are building and medical products available. The copper industry touts the anti-microbial feature, that is registered by the EPA as effective [http://antimicrobialcopper.com/us/scientific-proof/registration-against-bacteria.aspx]

Recently, a copper coating process has been developed and is used in operating rooms. There is also an alternative non-copper treatment for hard surfaces that doesn’t wear out or wash off, although I believe it wears off as the surface is worn down after many years.

Copper really isn’t that pricey compared to the normal alternative for hand-contact items, stainless steel, but it is much softer, so shows damage much easier. Although the bright copper appearance is attractive, it requires a clear coating to maintain, and occasional re-coating. I believe that the anti-microbial quality is lost when the clear coating is applied. Uncoated, copper will darken, and some like the natural patina that forms from oils transferred from the hand.


That's really neat!

There are certain standards regulated by the EPA that materials must meet to be considered "antimicrobial." The link you included lists a number of microbes - all bacteria - that copper acts against. Based on research like Jaykus' and Manuel's, future applications may include several anti-viral or anti-fungal activities and broaden the range of microbes copper acts on.

Also interesting to note that the price isn't so different between stainless steel and copper. You don't read as many news articles about stolen stainless steel as stolen copper wiring!

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