December 23, 2012

More copper to fight superbugs

Filed under: Health, Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:01

Brass and other copper-alloyed metals may have a bright future in doorknobs, handles, and other frequently handled surfaces due to a recent discovery about the metal’s ability to fight bacteria:

Researchers have discovered that copper and alloys made from the metal, including brass, can prevent antibiotic resistance in bacteria from spreading.

Plastic and stainless steel surfaces, which are now widely used in hospitals and public settings, allow bacteria to survive and spread when people touch them.

Even if the bacteria die, DNA that gives them resistance to antibiotics can survive and be passed on to other bacteria on these surfaces. Copper and brass, however, can kill the bacteria and also destroy this DNA.

Professor Bill Keevil, head of the microbiology group at Southampton University, said using copper on surfaces in public places and on public transport could dramatically cut the threat posed by superbugs.

[. . .]

In research published in the journal Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, Professor Keevil and his colleagues found that compared to stainless steel bacteria on copper surfaces bacterial DNA rapidly degraded at room temperature.

Professor Keevil added: “We live in this new world of stainless steel and plastic, but perhaps we should go back to using brass more instead.”

Tim Worstall points out that much of the stainless steel came in through health and safety regulation:

But isn’t this just great? All that modernity, all that ripping out of the old and replacement with futuristic design actually kills people?

It’s almost as fun as the discovery that the wooden chopping boards, which they made illegal, contain natural antibiotics which the plastic chopping boards, which they made compulsory, do not.

The Man from Whitehall really does not know best. And given that, can we hang them all from the Christmas tree please? It would usher in such a jolly New Year.

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