This week, Vancouver Coastal Health, TransLink and Teck announced a first-of-its-kind project that will pilot the use of bacteria and virus killing copper and organosilane on high-touch surfaces on transit.
"Building on our previous studies, phase one of this project 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 and division head for Medical Microbiology and Infection Prevention and Control at VCH.
Copper alloy surfaces are naturally antimicrobial with self-sanitizing properties. Recent literature shows that copper alloy surfaces destroy up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses within four hours. Organosilane, a silicone-based barrier, provides long-lasting protection against damaging microbes such as bacteria, mold, mildew and many viruses. When used together with good hygiene and cleaning protocols, copper and organosilanes can help inhibit the buildup and growth of viruses and bacteria.
While you can now see the two SkyTrain cars and the two trolley buses fitted with Copper and organosilane on your commute, the study officially starts on November 15. Twice weekly, the surfaces will be swabbed and tested to determine antimicrobial effectiveness of the products. At the end of the four-week project, the Copper surfaces will also be assessed for durability.
This project will inform further studies that examine bacterial and viral loads on copper and organosilane surfaces over time.
"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," adds Dr. Charles.
The Copper Pilot Project is the first of its kind in North America and is the result of a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health, TransLink, Teck Resources Limited (Teck), VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Coalition for Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction (CHAIR), and the University of British Columbia (UBC). The copper products are manufactured by Aeris, Aereus Technologies and CuGrip and the organosilane product by Aegis.
The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and the Intensive Care Unit at Vancouver General Hospital have been outfitted with copper as part of previous studies lead by the Infection Prevention and Control team.