What are antimicrobial surfaces? Why are they important?

Q: What are antimicrobial surfaces? Why are they important?

A: For decades, the only options to combat transmitting infections have related to hand hygiene and the cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces that harbor germs. These disinfectants are registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their efficacy, safety, environmental impact, and conditions of use.

Recently the EPA has also registered a new class of surfaces themselves—solid copper-based materials—for their inherent ability to kill infectious bacteria Their prescribed use is as a complement to standard cleaning practices to control bacteria linked to high-touch surfaces within healthcare settings. In testing for the EPA, these copper alloy materials have demonstrated:

a) Antimicrobial efficacy as a sanitizer

b) That this efficacy will not diminish nor wear away over time, and

c) The ability to continuously reduce bacterial concentration when a test surface is re-inoculated, without cleaning or disinfecting the surface between inoculations.

Coatings and additives are not registered by the EPA to make public health claims. This newly recognized category of copper surfaces provides an additional opportunity to help reduce the risk of exposure to infectious bacteria in hospitals, schools, hotels and a broad range of public spaces.