EPA Approves 73 Additional Copper Alloys as Antimicrobial

April 22, 2011


Over 350 copper alloys can claim to kill certain bacteria

NEW YORK, NY-The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the registration of an additional 73 copper alloys as antimicrobial, bringing the number of EPA-registered antimicrobial copper alloys to 355. The registration allows public health claims to be made regarding the efficacy of the alloys in killing certain harmful, potentially deadly bacteria.

The registration was granted based on independent laboratory tests showing that, when cleaned regularly, copper, brass and bronze kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: MRSA, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. MRSA is one of the most virulent strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a common cause of hospital- and community-acquired infections.

The use of EPA-registered copper alloys for frequently touched surfaces, as a supplement to hand-washing and disinfection regimens, has far-reaching implications for the reduction of the aforementioned bacteria. Potential uses include door and furniture hardware, bed rails, intravenous dispensers, faucets, sinks and work stations.

A clinical trial funded by the Department of Defense has found that copper surfaces decrease contamination in intensive care unit rooms. Researchers are currently evaluating whether this decrease means fewer hospital acquired infections.

The use of antimicrobial copper alloy surfaces is not a substitute to good hygienic practices.