Copper making a comeback as a major disease fighter | Don Brunell

Brass surfaces kills a wide-spectrum of bacteria and fungi.

Government leaders, doctors, and medical researchers worldwide are working feverishly to stop the spread of the coronavirus and keep it from becoming a global pandemic.

Wuhan, one of China’s major transportation hubs whose population approaches 11 million, is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak which is spreading like wildfire. Wuhan was put on lockdown. The fear is widespread prompting China’s government leaders to build a 1,000 bed hospital within a week.

Professor Shenglan Tang, an expert in global health at Duke University, says while China’s major cities are the focus, there are major concerns for rural areas even with the travel restrictions.

China’s death toll from the coronavirus shot up to 81 on Jan. 27 and confirmed cases across the nation ballooned to more than 2,700.

More than 40 cases, mainly from travelers coming from China, have been confirmed in a dozen other countries. Five Americans, including a man from Snohomish County, have been infected.

Since SeaTac is a major airport serving China, our health officials worry the virus could spread by passengers and crews arriving here.

Drug companies are racing around the clock to develop a vaccine.

Medical experts fear a repeat of the last influenza pandemic that swept our planet in 1918. The Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people—three percent of the world’s population. That year one-fifth of the world’s population was attacked by the deadly virus.

Today’s antibiotics, medicines and sanitary techniques were non-existent a century ago. However, copper was and it was first used in medicine over 3,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, copper vessels stored drinking water because the metal’s properties prevented the spread of diseases.

We also know that many diseases are transmitted by hands touching door knobs and hand rails in public places, schools and buses.

Researchers at Queens College at City University of New York (CUNY) learned that exposure to dry copper alloy surfaces, such as brass, kills a wide-spectrum bacteria and fungi and permanently inactivates several viruses. Greater than 99.9 percent of the killing occurred within 2 hours.

In November, the American Society of Microbiology released a new study which discovered that copper hospital beds in intensive care units had 95 percent fewer bacteria than conventional beds.

That’s important because “hospital-acquired infections sicken approximately 2 million Americans annually, and kill nearly 100,000,” Dr. Michael G. Schmidt, University of South Carolina, Charleston, added. It is the eighth leading cause of U.S. deaths.

Copper alloy surfaces in buildings, homes and schools—albeit more expensive to install—are disease fighters which can significantly lower infection and death rates.

Exercise facilities and gyms are major breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 58 million Americans are in a gym two or more times a week. They workout in one of the 30,500 gyms and health clubs across the US.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases breaks down the rate of incidence of the common cold in adults for 62 million per year. That means one adult per second will come down with the common cold caused by germ-filled surfaces.

Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA, research concluded the “use of copper alloys on high-touch athletic center surfaces, (barbells, dumbells, kettlebells and exercise machines) lowered bacteria counts by an average of 94 percent. Many gyms, weight-rooms and exercise centers purchase stainless steel or iron equipment which are lower priced.

Importantly, CUNY researchers found that copper remains affective in fighting disease which develop drug resistant mutations.

Hopefully, the coronavirus will prompt additional research into copper as a disease fighter. We will continue to find copper’s positive outweigh its negatives.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Business

Like Poland, America needs change | Brunell

Rioting, burning and looting don’t get us anywhere.

A new measure from the King County Council could increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas of King County. File photo
County measure would increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas

Staff report Legislation the King County Council passed June 23 could lead… Continue reading

Plans still in works for downtown parking lot

The Thunder Dome Car Museum is looking at building a commercial building on the site.

Westfield Southcenter Mall to reopen June 15

Modified hours; safety protocols

Enumclaw High students earn state FFA honors

Together, these eight students have completed a combined 2,880 hours of classroom instruction and 2,400 hours of work on their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects.

Goodwill to reopen donation centers, stores in King, Pierce counties

Including Kent, Auburn, Federal Way locations

Sound Publishing offering matching advertisement grants

Your local paper is offering $200,000 in matching grants so local businesses can stretch their advertising budgets.

New Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma to open June 8

$400M, 310,000-square-foot facility will open with COVID-19 precautions

Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn to reopen May 26

Face masks to be required of guests and employees

A brighter future for papermakers | Brunell

COVID-19 had a surprising effect on locally-manufactured paper products.

Like similar businesses across King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, Bothell restaurant Hana Sushi closed due to public-health concerns. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee changes course, says diners won’t have to sign in

Restaurants may still ask customers for information that contact tracers could use to stop an outbreak.