Copper’s Antimicrobial Powers
(Pictured above: Copper cathodes at our Carmen de Andacollo operation.)
Each year, some seven million hospital-acquired infections occur in healthcare facilities around the world. These infections not only affect patient health, but also prolong hospital stays, costing individuals and health systems more than $80 billion globally. In the United States alone, hospital infections result in an estimated 100,000 deaths annually.
What do hospital-acquired infections have to do with mining? New presented at a World Health Organization conference from a multi-site clinical trial in the US demonstrated that using copper surfaces in intensive care unit rooms resulted in a 40.4% reduction in the risk of acquiring a hospital infection.
The use of copper as an antimicrobial agent is not new. In fact, copper’s antimicrobial powers have been used for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used copper as a sterilization agent for drinking water and the Aztecs treated sore throats with copper.