A Vancouver-based mining company wants to see copper in more public spaces because of its antimicrobial properties.
Teck Resources Limited will make this presentation to delegates at the online portion of the Prospectors and Developers Association conference in Toronto, June 28-29.
The company began working with hospitals, daycare centers and transit authorities to install copper on high-touch surfaces.
Catherine Adair, the company’s community development manager, said numerous studies have shown that copper kills 99.9% of harmful bacteria within two hours.
“So after someone touches a doorknob, they can leave germs behind,” Adair said.
“If it’s a copper doorknob, the copper immediately starts killing germs that are on that doorknob.”
Vasu Appanna, professor of biochemistry at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., said copper interferes with the genetic material in bacteria that allows them to reproduce and kills microbes over time.
“For many, many years, copper has been used to kill fungus, especially in agriculture, where people spray copper sulfate as a means of killing fungal growth on plants,” he said. .
Teck Resources produces copper at its Highland Valley Copper operations in south-central British Columbia.
The company has piloted a number of programs with public institutions, including schools, hospitals and transit providers, to add small amounts of copper to “high-touch” areas.
“It’s a very minimal use of copper,” Adair said.
“If you think about, you know, a doorknob, the whole doorknob doesn’t have to be copper. It’s really just the surface, which is what you’re touching.”
Copper is used in a wide variety of applications, from wiring and plumbing to electric motors and electronics.
“It’s in the power grid, it’s in our phones, it’s in the cloud,” Adair said. “The cloud is basically copper and that’s where everything is stored right now.”
Appanna of Laurentian University said using copper in public places for its antimicrobial properties isn’t a bad idea, but added the metal is more expensive than other ways to kill bacteria. harmful.
On Wednesday, copper was trading at US$3.94 per pound.
Appanna said alcohol-based hand sanitizers and bleach for cleaning surfaces have been shown to be very effective in killing viruses and bacteria.
“These organic sanitizers, I think they do a really, really good job,” he said.
“Bleach is extremely powerful because organisms, such as microbes, die on the outside. And people sometimes even use ozone.”