`Copper surfaces reduce hospital infections`

New Delhi: Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) can be reduced by more than 70 percent by using copper alloys on surfaces which come frequently in contact with microbes, say experts.

The HAI generally spread through airborne microbes or through direct contact with contaminated surfaces present in the hospital such as bedpans, handrails, table-tops, equipment trolleys, door knobs or water taps.

However, Chandrasekhar R., the chief architect at the health and family welfare ministry, claimed that use of copper alloys in such equipments and surfaces, instead of other metals, can reduce the microbe growth tremendously.

"These surfaces often come in contact with microbes from various sources and are a breeding ground for disease carrying microbes, but 99.99 percent microbes can be killed if copper alloys are used," he said.

"Copper is the only metal that is proven to be germicidal. Copper ruptures the cell walls of the disease carrying germs and can kill them in as less as 15 minutes, " he said about the germ-killing action of the metal.

Chandrasekhar said the country lacked a comprehensive data regarding the incidence of HAI, but the research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, showed that the use of equipments and surfaces made from copper based alloys having a more than 60 percent copper content, reduced the HAI by as much as 69 percent.

In India, especially in rural areas, this percentage is bound to be much more due a lower state of hygiene, Anu Kant Mital, representative for International Copper Promotion Council, told.

Copper-based alloys were as strong as stainless steel and were equally priced, allowing for easy replacement of stainless steel and other metals in the hospital areas, he added.


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