Antimicrobial Coatings to be Tested on Transit


Diversified natural resources company, Teck Resources Limited (Vancouver, Canada) recently 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.

“We are proud to be working with all the partners on this important pilot project to expand the use of antimicrobial copper in high-traffic public areas and prevent infections,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck. “Through the Copper & Health program, Teck has been partnering with healthcare professionals, academia and others for years to help make communities safer. This pilot builds on those efforts at a critical time as the world works to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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.

According to Teck, copper alloy surfaces are naturally antimicrobial with self-sanitizing properties, with research showing that these surfaces eliminate up to 99.9% of harmful bacteria and viruses. In its latest pilot project, fully funded by the company itself, will host a four-week-long initial phases where various copper surfaces will be installed on two buses on high-ridership routes and two SkyTrain cars in Vancouver.

An organosilane surface preservative will also be tested that has the potential to control and/or prevent the growth of microorganisms on treated surfaces.

“This project builds on preceding research and will increase our understanding of the effectiveness of copper in killing organisms on frequently-touched surfaces. Positive findings will then be used to study the impact of copper on bacteria and viruses such as COVID-19 and norovirus,” said Dr. Marthe Charles, Medical Microbiologist at Vancouver Coastal Health. “This holds future infection control benefits not only for the public in their travels but for healthcare workers and patients who navigate their medical journey at Vancouver Coastal Health and beyond.”

Recent Antimicrobial Coating Studies

In May, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology announced that they have developed a multilevel antimicrobial polymer (MAP-1) coating that they say is effective in killing viruses, bacteria and spores.

While the coating is confirmed to be effective against drug-resistant microorganisms in the healthcare space (including two field studies in the Kowloon Hospital and Haven of Hope Woo Ping Care and Attention Home), the team also works with the Water Supplies Department and the Drainage Service Department to field test the coating in infrastructure projects as well.

The coating was developed by a team led by professor Yeung King-lun, of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Division of Environment and Sustainability.

The coating reportedly prevents microbial adhesion on a surface by using the special blend of antimicrobial polymers, effectively killing “99.9% of bacteria and viruses.”

The university noted that in an effort to combat COVID-19, it has collaborated with Chiaphua Industries Limited to apply the coating in 70 daycare centers, elderly homes, schools, malls, buses, churches and sports facilities.

Two months prior, researchers at University College London were reported to have developed a coating that activates in low-intensity light to kill bacteria. Published in Nature Communications, researchers claim that use of the coating could help stop the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) and disease.

The new coating is reportedly made of tiny clusters of chemically modified gold embedded in a polymer with crystal violet—a dye with antibacterial and antifungal properties.

The team of chemists, chemical engineers and microbiologists created the bactericidal coating using a scalable method and tested how well it killed S. aureus and E. coli against control coatings and under different lighting conditions.

Surfaces were treated with either the bactericidal coating or a control coating “before being inoculated with 100,000 colony forming units per ml of either S. aureus and E. coli. The growth of the bacteria was investigated under dark and white light conditions between 200 – 429 lux.”

The research found that in ambient light, a control coating of crystal violet in a polymer alone did not kill either bacteria. However, in the same lighting conditions, the bactericidal coating led to a 3.3 log reduction in the growth of S. aureus after six hours and a 2.8 log reduction in the growth of E. coli after 24 hours.

The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, through the Advanced Flow Technology for Healthcare Materials Manufacturing project.


Tagged categories: Antimicrobial coatings; Asia Pacific; Coating Materials; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Copper; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; Health and safety; Health Care/Hospitals; Latin America; Mass transit; North America; Public Transit; Research; Research and development; Z-Continents

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