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EPA Registers Copper for Use Against COVID-19

Monday, February 15, 2021

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Late last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered copper surfaces for residual use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

As a result of EPA’s approval, products containing copper alloys can now be sold and distributed with claims that they kill certain viruses that come into contact with them. According to the EPA, this is the first product with residual claims against viruses to be registered for use nationwide. Testing to demonstrate this effectiveness was conducted on harder-to-kill viruses.

“Providing Americans with new tools and information to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 is one of EPA’s top priorities,” said Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “Today’s action marks another step forward in EPA’s efforts to listen to the science and provide effective tools to help protect human health.”

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Late last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered copper surfaces for residual use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

In the action, the EPA granted an amended registration to the Copper Development Association for “an emerging viral pathogen claim  to be added to the label of Antimicrobial Copper Alloys- Group 1 (EPA Reg. No. 82012-1), which is made of at least 95.6% copper.”

Amended registrations allow previously registered products to make label changes (such as product claims or directions) and/or formulation changes. In this case, the amended registration is adding virus claims to the product registration.

The efficacy testing was supported by the Copper Development Association and conducted according to EPA's protocols. It reportedly demonstrated that certain high-percentage copper alloy products can continuously kill viruses that come into contact with them. Based on testing against harder-to-kill viruses, EPA expects these products to eliminate 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within two hours.

These high-percentage copper alloy products will be added to the List N Appendix, the EPA’s list of residual antiviral products that can be used to supplement routine cleaning and disinfection to combat SARS-CoV-2.

The Agency notes, though, that the copper alloy products don’t replace standard infection control practices.

Recent Copper Coating Research

Late last year, Vancouver-based Teck Resources Limited announced that it would be testing its antimicrobial copper coatings on high-touch transit surfaces.

The project has been dubbed as the first of its kind on a transit system in North America and is being conducted in partnership with TransLink, Vancouver Coastal Health, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Coalition for Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction, and the University of British Columbia.

Through the company’s Copper & Health Program, Teck believes that as a major copper producer it can help to increase the use of antimicrobial copper in both healthcare facilities and public spaces to reduce the spread of infections, in addition to raising awareness and improving health outcomes for those most at risk.

The Copper & Health program focuses on three areas:

  • Building the Evidence Base – a collection of completed and in-progress studies covering SARS-Cov-2 on copper alloy, the use of copper surfaces in healthcare and the cleaning and disinfection of healthcare facilities;
  • Partnership & Advocacy – a series of partnerships with transit and hospitals, which it is choosing to share collected research and information with provincial health authorities and working with provincial and federal governments to support further research and use of copper; and
  • Raising Awareness – notable case studies of copper coatings successfully reducing the spread of bacteria throughout the office.

And, in November, materials science company Corning Incorporated announced that it was working with PPG to register a paint formulated with glass-ceramic technology.

According to the company, the tests provide the first demonstration of highly durable antimicrobial activity against SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, the antimicrobial efficacy remained active even after tests simulating six years of scrubbing. (The tests were designed to account for the cleaning that a surface could be subjected to over time.)

Corning Guardiant contains copper, which has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial efficacy when applied to surfaces, consistently reducing germs on contact.

Corning is now reportedly collaborating with paint and coatings manufacturers around the world, including PPG, to develop products containing Corning Guardiant that meet governmental and regulatory requirements.

Subject to EPA approval, PPG’s antiviral product will be available under the name “Copper Armor.”


Tagged categories: Coatings Technology; Coatings Technology; Copper; COVID-19; EPA; EPA; NA; North America

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