Antimicrobial copper alloy kills bacteria
Science suggests that antimicrobial copper alloy kills bacteria* with a multifaceted attack. How antimicrobial copper kills bacteria is complex; however, the effect is simple. To better understand antimicrobial copper, we’ve provided some answers below.
How does copper affect bacteria?
Science has shown bacteria is affected by copper in two consecutive steps:
- First, there is a direct interaction between the surface of the copper and the bacterial outer membrane which causes the membrane to burst.
- Next, the outer membrane, which protects the cell, develops holes causing the cell to weaken as it loses vital nutrients and water.
How can copper punch holes in a bacterium?
Every cell’s outer membrane, including that of a single cell organism like a bacterium, is characterized by a stable electrical micro-current. This voltage difference between the inside and the outside of a cell is often called “transmembrane potential.” When a bacterium comes in contact with a copper surface, it is strongly suspected that a short circuiting of the current weakens the cell’s membrane, resulting in holes.
Localized oxidation can also make a hole in a cell membrane. When a single copper molecule, or copper ion, from the copper surface interacts with the cell membrane’s building block, such as a protein or a fatty acid, in the presence of oxygen, oxidative damage can occur.
After punching holes, how do copper ions further damage the cell?
Once the cell’s outer membrane has been breached, the cell is unable to stop the unopposed stream of copper ions from entering the cell. Copper ions literally flood the inside of the cell and obstruct cell metabolism, threatening several vital cell processes. Specifically, the biochemical reactions needed for life are halted when excess copper binds to the cell’s enzymes. The bacterium can no longer breathe, eat, digest, or create energy.
How can copper’s effect be so fast, and affect such a wide range of microorganisms?
The reason copper surfaces can quickly kill bacteria is because of the multi-targeted effects. Once the membrane is perforated, copper ions paralyze the cell’s vital functions including transporting or digesting nutrients, repairing its damaged membrane, and breathing or multiplying. The wide range of bacteria are no contest for the quick, multitude effects of copper contact.
Results from several bactericidal copper efficacy clinical trials, including those conducted in active Intensive Care Units (ICU) and healthcare facilities, support EPA GLP tests which state copper alloys reduce bacteria continuously and consistently.* CuVerro® copper is the best copper surface solution for killing bacteria in any environment.
*Testing demonstrates effective antibacterial activity against: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7.
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