Exploring the Antimicrobial Properties of Brass

in Brass

For centuries, brass and other copper-containing alloys have been known for their bacteriostatic and sanitizing properties. Even before intensive research about bacteria and other microorganisms started, the use of these metals for sanitation purposes had already been extensive. Thus, the production of brass sheets and tubes continue to grow as more and more industries need their properties. Compared to traditional sanitation methods that involve the use of corrosive chemicals, using brass-based equipment provides safer and more upkeep-efficient results.

 

The antimicrobial property of brass can be traced from its copper content. Copper, one of the oldest metals exploited for industrial purposes, has a complex molecular structure that enables it to kill bacteria thriving on its surface. Studies show that a small piece of copper exterminates even fungi, algae, and molds at a wide range. This is a unique property that makes brass an ideal metal for various uses.

 

There is no exact explanation for the bacteriostatic function of copper against harmful microbes. However, hundreds of studies—supported by substantial evidence—made by different groups attest to the veracity of the said function. The impact of the discovery is now seen in the widespread retrofitting of non-brass-based tools in health-concerned places like hospitals and restaurants. Some of these tools are commonly touched items such as kitchen utensils, over-the-bed tray tables, and chair arms.

 

The copper in brass, regardless of grade, plays an antimicrobial function in several known ways. Its molecules alter the three-dimensional structure of proteins in microbes so that the proteins can no longer accomplish normal functions, thus killing the bacteria after a certain period. The copper complexes present on the surface of brass sheets are also capable of forming radicals that kill viruses.

 

Some grades of copper degrade lipids in bacteria, thus creating holes in their cells. As a result, essential solutes leak away and the bacterial cells desiccate. Elevated levels of copper also lead to the generation of hydrogen peroxide, a compound known for causing oxidative damage to most cells. When formed on the surface of a metal, it eventually kills and repels bacteria.

 

With this property, tools made of brass have a high efficacy to destroy potent and highly infectious pathogens such as E. coli, influenza A virus, fungi, and adenovirus. A brass supplier may gain more proceeds by producing and distributing brass sheets and tubes that many industries and institutions need. Such industries and institutions look forward to maximizing brass’s essential properties to protect public health.

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Lawrence Halter has 15 articles online

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Exploring the Antimicrobial Properties of Brass

This article was published on 2011/11/12