Copper Doorknobs and Your Health

I was so excited by something I learned yesterday that I stayed up long into the night on my motel internet reading about it.

Here’s the back story. I’m traveling cross country looking for a new home and exploring along the way. In Arizona I stopped at Jerome, a once-ghost-town that is now an artist colony. Jerome was a copper mining town perched high on a mountain slope. Because the town began slipping down the slope, and for other reasons, a company town Clarkdale was built in the Verde valley below. Had to visit that! A sweet little town full of Craftsman homes built around a square…and a great copper museum inside the old high school!

The display that caught my attention was about copper’s ability to destroy microbes. Who’d a thunk? Maybe everyone else knew this. The museum curator told me that many metals disrupt microbes but that copper is possibly the best. A scholarly article I read explained that copper releases electrically charged particles (ions) when a microbe lands on its surface. A microbe includes viruses and bacteria. The ions punch holes in the surface of the virus and destroy the rna and dna inside, so it can’t reproduce. (See my earlier article about hand washing and the corona virus).

This is one reason some hospitals use copper doorknobs. The old high school itself had copper door knobs. Copper reduces infections. Why don’t more health centers use copper? It is expensive.

This article doesn’t yet include photos or citations because I’m using my iPad and I haven’t figured out how to paste them. I also can’t do experiments while traveling but here is an idea for an activity:

Moisten some bread and allow it to sit in a bowl for a few days until it is moldy. Then place some pure copper wire across part of it and see what happens. Is mold considered a microbe? I’m not sure. A piece of copper pipe or sheet of copper would be better. Why not use a penny?