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Spring 2005

Copper Could Help Counter Health Crisis

Copper could help ameliorate a national health crisis - the unacceptably high number of patients who die or suffer lasting injury because of infections contracted in hospitals, according to Lee Gordon, president of Cupron Inc. The New York Times reports that as many as 100,000 patients die in American hospitals each year as a result of such infections. Hospitals in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere are experiencing the same crisis.

Cupron, a small, privately held company in North Carolina, is developing fabrics and other materials using a patented technology with a powerful antimicrobial ingredient - copper oxide. Sheets, pillow cases, bed clothing, slippers and privacy curtains made of impregnated fabrics could reduce the high rate of deadly infections, Gordon, says. The company plans also to offer impregnated latex gloves for operating-room personnel.

Gordon explains that, based on the company's extensive research and published studies, copper oxide dramatically shortens the life of germs, viruses, fungi and dust mites, and it inhibits their reproduction.

This is an advantage, he says, because no dangerous mutations would be left that might survive contact with the copper oxide.

Aid for Diabetics

Cupron is working with Renfro Corporation, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of socks, to offer products containing copper oxide to aid the millions of diabetics who may develop foot infections, which if not treated properly could cause serious harm. Socks with soles woven of treated fibers to prevent athlete's foot are expected on the retail market this year. Because soldiers in combat may not be able to change their socks, socks with copper oxide would help them avoid much feared "trench foot."

Socks with soles woven of copper oxide-treated fibers could help prevent athlete's foot, aid diabetic foot care and control bad odors. Inset shows copper-infused fibers.

Work gloves with copper oxide worn by those who prepare food commercially could help control the spread of harmful pathogens. The gloves would be reinforced with metal fibers, which prevent cuts to those who use sharp knives, such as slaughterhouse workers.

Food-preparation work gloves with copper oxide could help control spread of harmful pathogens. Gloves are reinforced with metal fibers to help prevent cuts from sharp knives.

Some of Cupron's possible future offerings include: treated underwear that would help women avoid yeast infections, impregnated bristles for toothbrushes (medical researchers have begun to tie mouth infections to heart disease), impregnated diapers to avoid diaper rash, filters for the machines that pump blood during heart operations, and filters for the ventilation systems in airplanes and buildings where air laden with germs and viruses is recirculated.

Current military uniforms pick up pathogens that may be driven deep into the bodies of the wounded by bullets and shrapnel, according to Gordon. Therefore, uniforms made of impregnated fabric would be much less likely to cause infections in the wound.

No Loss Due to Washing

Gordon claims the materials created with Cupron's patented technology do not lose their antimicrobial power if washed frequently, as happens in hospitals. The copper oxide used by Cupron is very finely ground down to micron diameter. Fabrics and other materials impregnated with the oxide show its pale copper color. The oxide doesn't change the feel of fabrics - they remain soft. The Herzog Hospital in Israel is currently testing Cuprontreated fabrics.

Countering Allergies

Asthma and allergies are common health problems in the USA and elsewhere. Gordon says products made from Cupron-treated fibers, such as mattress covers and ticking, could prevent the propagation of tiny mites that cause the problems. Cupron is also developing solid plastics containing copper oxide for such applications as the handles of supermarket shopping carts.


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