Copper -an element long valued for its antibiotic properties- can be used as a shield from bacteria which lurk almost everywhere, from fresh food and air filters to toilet seats and folding money discovers a scientists.
The innovation by Michigan Technological University scientist, Jaroslaw Drelich, relies on copper, an element valued for centuries for its antibiotic properties.
Drelich, a professor of materials science and engineering, has discovered how to embed nanoparticles of the red metal into vermiculite, an inexpensive, inert compound sometimes used in potting soil.
In preliminary tests on local lake water, it killed 100 percent of E. coli bacteria in the sample. Drelich also found that it was effective in killing Staphylococcus aureus, the common staph bacteria.
Copper can not just kill bacteria but is also toxic to viruses and fungi.
Drelich said that if it were incorporated into food packaging materials, it could help prevent a variety of foodborne diseases.
The material could be used to treat drinking water, industrial effluent, even sewage and it could be embedded in products used in public places where disease transmission is a concern: toilet seats, showerheads, even paper toweling.
The study was published in journal Applied Surface.