The antimicrobial properties of copper and silver when added to water is widely documented and accepted. This is why Copper Silver Ionisation (CSI) is recognised as a safe, efficient and highly effective method for disinfecting water distribution systems in Hospitals and Aged Care Facilities across the world.
But what if the full potential of copper and silver as disinfectants is yet to be realised?
Most scientific studies on Copper Silver Ionisation focus on the disinfection of the water itself and the treatment of the water distribution system. Furthermore, the discussions predominate around biofilm and the bacteria responsible for forming it. Whilst these factors are vitally important, it is timely to expand our views on the benefits of CSI.
Firstly, let us consider that water, with copper and silver ions introduced into it, is not only disinfected, it also becomes a disinfectant. This is the reason it is effective against the pathogens that produce the biofilm within the water distribution system.
Secondly, water coming from a water distribution system treated with CSI is used on surfaces outside of the distribution system. The water will also provide a level of disinfection on the exposed areas even after drying off as it leaves a copper and silver residual coating on the surface.
When discussing the efficacy of CSI, bacteria are predominantly the focus of attention. What is important to be aware of, is that CSI is effective against other microorganisms besides bacteria. There is a plethora of material in the public domain that demonstrates that CSI is effective in also eliminating a range of moulds, fungi and viruses.
Let’s now look in depth at both of these points. Going back to the first point raised, if the copper and silver can eliminate microorganisms living on the inner surface of a pipe, we can then see that water containing copper and silver ions will also be effective on other surfaces. Naturally the first thing that comes to mind is the sinks and bathroom wet areas that the water flows across. Let’s expand this further and consider not only kitchens/food preparation areas but anywhere and anything that is cleaned down with water. Simply wiping down surfaces with a cloth wetted with water containing copper and silver ions provides a level of disinfection. This is amazing and important. Usually water in a bucket is quickly contaminated with microorganisms unless it contains chemicals, such as chlorine. However, the concept of using the copper and silver ions as the active ingredient creates a whole new world of thinking!
Whilst the water itself acts as a disinfectant, it also needs to be said that the copper and silver contained in the water will remain on the surface after the water has dried off, leaving the copper and silver ions behind as an active antimicrobial layer.
In recent times, the scientific community has demonstrated the efficacy of these antimicrobial layers in the control of microorganisms such as bacteria and, more notably, viruses.
A recent article published in “The Melbourne Age” newspaper1 reminds us of what has long been known: copper’s effectiveness as a broad antimicrobial agent, but more specifically in light of current world events, an antiviral agent.
Hospitals and other health care facilities around the world have installed copper plated surfaces such as doorplates, door knobs, handrails2 and other surfaces that are touched by patient and residents. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine3 found that no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus was measured after 4 hours on copper surfaces, whereas the virus remained more stable on steel (detectable after 72 hours after application).
The Asklepios Clinic in Wandsbek/Hamburg, Germany conducted a study about the effect of copper surfaces in 2008/2009, which was followed up by further worldwide studies confirming that microbial counts as well as nosocomial infection rates in ICUs could be reduced by up to 58 percent.4
In a 2016 Japanese study5 into copper and silver’s effect on viruses, the paper states in the highlights:
- Antiviral activities were comparatively evaluated using copper and silver compounds.
- Solid-state Cu2O showed superior activity against enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.
- Exposure to Cu2O preferentially inactivated infection ability of influenza viruses.
- Cu2O has a unique antiviral mechanism mediated by direct contact.
As you can see, we are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recognising the vast benefits of copper and silver to public health.
When considering the benefits of Copper Silver Ionisation, attention needs to be given to the fact that copper/silver treated water from the potable water systems will be widely used on surfaces in facilities. Thus, the dissolved copper and silver metal content in the water will act as a biocide on the surfaces it is applied to and help to reduce the spread of harmful pathogens including dangerous viruses.
Copper Silver Ionisation is a proven, reliable and cost-effective method of disinfecting potable water distribution systems. CSI is highly efficient in eliminating free-floating bacteria, while powerfully removing and preventing the formation of biofilm.
Bion Systems design and manufacture state-of-the-art Copper Silver Ionisation technology to protect potable water distribution systems from Legionella, Pseudomonas, viruses and other pathogens. If you would like to discuss a tailored solution for your facility, contact us.
 The Age, April 15th, 2020: Copper-coated doorknobs to kill COVID? It makes sense, say scientists, https://www.theage.com.au/national/copper-coated-doorknobs-to-kill-covid-it-makes-sense-say-scientists-20200414-p54jqi.html
 Copper Surfaces Reduce the Rate of Healthcare-Acquired Infections in the Intensive Care UnitInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Vol. 34, No. 5, Special Topic Issue: The Role of the Environment in Infection Prevention (May 2013), pp. 479-486 (8 pages), https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670207
 Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1, N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1564-1567 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973
 Press release by Asklepios Clinic, Germany, https://www.asklepios.com/presse/presse-mitteilungen/konzernmeldungen/kupfer-gegen-keime~ref=eb4b30af-4bd6-4365-9b67-31baebfb4962~
 Masafumi Minoshima, Yue Lu, Takuto Kimura, Ryuichi Nakano, Hitoshi Ishiguro, Yoshinobu Kubota, Kazuhito Hashimoto, Kayano Sunada Comparison of the antiviral effect of solid-state copper and silver compounds. Journal of Hazardous Materials 312 (2016) 1–7