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Copper vs. Coronavirus: Antique Fixtures Exhibit Antimicrobial Prowess


By Naomi Millán Facilities Management
Antique copper handrail.

If you have any plans to remove old copper or brass fixtures from your facility for sleeker, modern options, you might want to think again. Copper, and copper alloys such as brass, are naturally antimicrobial. In a recent preliminary study, it was found that coronavirus doesn’t survive past four hours on copper surfaces, according to TODAY.

Copper’s antimicrobial properties have been touted since ancient times, and it was used everywhere from poultices to drinking cups. Hospitals around the world have started installing copper on frequent touch points, such as door handles, to combat hospital acquired infections, according to The Conversation. An advantage copper has over other surfaces is that its antimicrobial properties work when it is dry, whereas others need to be wet. For those facilities desiring the look of stainless steel, but the antimicrobial function of copper, copper-nickel alloys might be a good bet, according to FastCompany. 

To note, touching copper will not sanitize your hands. It is helpful in keeping germs from populating a surface and then being further spread by someone else’s hands. To clean your own hands, the best bet is still another old-fashioned goodie: washing your hands with soap and water.   

Naomi Millán is senior editor of Building Operating Management. 

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