New study shows copper surfaces on athletic equipment reduce bacteria by 94 percent

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New study shows copper surfaces on athletic equipment reduce bacteria by 94 percent

Oct 30, 2017

Louisville, KY, Oct. 30, 2017 – The Grinnell College Department of Biology has released new research concluding that the use of copper alloys on high-touch athletic center surfaces lowered bacteria count by an average of 94 percent.

The Grinnell study, published this week by the American Journal of Infection Control, looked at the effect of using copper on commonly-used pieces of equipment, including four types of weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, specialty dumbbells) and three types of attachments (grips, lat pulldowns, low-rows).

Staphylococcus was the most common type of bacteria found on surfaces that the research team tested. In recent years a virulent form of this bacteria, MRSA, was discovered to have infected players in professional, collegiate and secondary school team sports. Athletic facilities at Villanova, Purdue, Bellarmine and others are now using weights made with CuVerro® copper to help ensure athlete health.

The study found that dumbbells were by the far the “dirtiest” pieces of equipment tested at the new Grinnell College Fitness Center, a popular health facility for students, athletes, and faculty in Grinnell, Iowa.

“Our study highlights the ability of athletic surfaces to serve as reservoirs of bacteria,” according to Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Shannon M. Hinsa-Leasure, who led the research. Copper’s ability to kill bacteria 24/7 is “useful for continuous hygiene maintenance”.

“Using copper alloys on high touch surfaces combined with other standard cleaning procedures could help lessen the spread of infection,” she said.

The Fitness Center research is the second major study on copper surfaces conducted by Hinsa-Leasure and her team at Grinnell’s Department of Biology. The weights in the study were provided by Black Iron Strength® made with CuVerro® antimicrobial copper.

Last year, she co-authored a peer-reviewed Journal article on a study that was the first to show that surfaces in patient rooms quickly re-contaminate after terminal cleaning even when the room is unoccupied. That study concluded that when surfaces in patient rooms are made of copper, bacterial loads do not rebound, whether the room is occupied or not.

Her most recent work – Reduction of Bacterial Burden on High-Touch Athletic Center Surfaces – was published by the American Journal of Infection Control on October 25, 2017.