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5 October, 2016

Copper And Copper Alloys, The New Disinfectant

Hospitals are using copper to reduce the spread of super bugs and other germs. The University Of Minnesota Research Lab has successfully eradicated zebra mussel from a lake using a copper base chemical.

Copper has antimicrobial properties that kill 99.9% of bacteria on its surface within two hours, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Germs like MRSA can live on everyday surfaces such as door handles, fittings and handrails for several days, if not months, from where they can be transmitted through indirect hand contact to other surfaces or patients.”

Metallic copper surfaces kill microbes on contact, decimating their populations, according to a paper in the February 2011 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. They do so literally in minutes, by causing massive membrane damage after about a minute’s exposure. This is the first study to demonstrate this mechanism of bactericide.

Metallic copper surfaces will never be able to replace other hygiene-improving methods already in effect, although they will certainly decrease the costs associated with hospital-acquired infections and curb human disease as well as save lives. However, this strategy is inexpensive, because the effect does not wear off.

It is important to note that only dry copper surfaces are amazingly lethal to bacteria. The difference between dry and wet surfaces, such as copper pipes, is that only dry surfaces are inhospitable environments for bacterial growth. Bacteria can easily grow and reproduce in wet environments, and in so doing, they can develop resistance to copper. But researcher at the University Of Minnesota resolved this problem by adding a chemical alloy to copper.

The ancients Egyptians didn’t have microscopes—those were an 18th Century invention—so they couldn’t see the bugs, but they knew what worked. The Smith Papyrus, written in Egypt between 4600 to 4200 years ago, recommends copper to sterilize chest wounds and drinking water. The Greeks learned medicine from the Egyptians; the Romans learned from the Greeks. Copper was prescribed for a variety of conditions, and for general hygiene. (The Aztecs also discovered this use of copper, quite separately. So did Mongolian nomads.)

Unfortunately, much medical knowledge was lost during what we call the Dark Ages, specifically in Medieval Europe. Eventually, in the 19th Century (my great-grandparents’ time), the germ theory of disease was established, and Europeans began to employ copper in medicine again.

When antibiotics were developed, copper fell out of use. However, as we all know, antibiotics have been over-prescribed and the bugs developed resistance—but they don’t develop resistance to copper. So doctors are experimenting with this metal once more, as anti-microbial surfaces in medical facilities: bed rails, door handles, food tray tables, and bathroom fixtures. Copper is expensive, but lots cheaper than treating the one in 25 patients who acquire infections in the hospital these days.

Now light switches, door handles and other surfaces could be replaced by copper, or copper alloys such as brass, after a study confirmed the metal's antibacterial properties.

15 January, 2014

Scientists from the federal polytechnic university of Zurich have developed a technique for the manufacture of electronic circuits transparencies so thin and flexible that they can wrap it around a hair. One of the first uses is the creation of contact lenses to monitor the development of glaucoma.

9 Novembre, 2012

Diffused blue LED is just as effective against drowsiness as cafinated coffee.

Forty eight tired drivers were divided into three groups of 16. One group drove 4 hours with a blue diffused LED mounted on their dashboard, a second group drove 4 hours after drinking 2 cups of cafinated coffee (200mg) and the third group drove 4 hours after drinking 2 cups of decaffeinated coffee .

Results: the first group strayed outside their lanes 15 times, the second group strayed outside their lanes 13 times and the third group which drank decaffeinated coffee stray outside their lanes 26 times.

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