In a series of blogs, Tran + Thomas Design explores the ways we can partner with science and good design practice to fight viruses to create safe and healthy environments in both private and public spaces.
Part 1: An Armor of Copper
As we adjust to a new normal in a post-COVID-19 world, designers are adapting tried and true design methods, as well as exploring new and innovative techniques that will help improve the health and wellness of a building’s occupants.
Known for its inherent anti-microbial properties, humans have been using copper for over 10,000 years, in both decorative and utilitarian applications. In its purest form, unwaxed copper acts as a natural disinfectant, killing viruses and bacteria within minutes of contact. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, copper shavings in swords were used to prevent infection, and water served in copper vessels were used to administer to children to alleviate diarrhea. Ancient Chinese healers treated heart, stomach and bladder problems with copper coins.
In fact, using copper for its antiviral abilities is not new technology at all, but is now being looked at more closely for the immediate benefit it can have in our public and private spaces in a post-COVID-19 world. The presence of bacteria is reduced up to 83% on objects retrofitted with copper surfaces. Research shows that replacing just 10% of surfaces in hospitals with copper lowers the risk of infection, and can save up to $1,100 in the daily cost of treating infections. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, more than half of the COVID-19 virus is dead within 30 minutes of landing on copper surface, and all are dead within 4 hours, while the virus can live on plastic and other metal surfaces for up to 72 hours.
What mystical powers does copper have that treats viruses so poorly? In the most basic terms, copper will degrade the virus, in a sense “blowing it apart,” according to Bill Keevil, a microbiology researcher at the University of Southhampton. He compares copper to the ubiquitous use of stainless steel in most public spaces: stainless steel seems clean, but only when cleaned regularly and often. Copper, on the other hand, “disinfects merely by being there.”
Where and how can copper be used? Sinks, door handles, table tops, surfaces, and hospital bedrails are just a start. And as an added bonus, particularly to those of us in the design world, copper is a beautiful material that is both durable, malleable, recyclable and inherently lovely in its rainbow of patina colors.
About Tran + Thomas
Built on the foundation of a 30-year, family-owned Interior Design business, Jill Tran and Carmen Thomas opened Tran + Thomas Design Studio in 2011 bringing a combined 36 years of experience to their projects. They work on both residential and commercial projects across several styles. Interested in their services? Call (913) 268-9595 or schedule a consultation below.