Healthy Schools

Schools See Vital Protections with Antimicrobial Copper

By Adam Estelle

Open, closed and reopened, schools have been a focus of community concern—and debate—throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest dilemma facing these vital institutions has been finding the right ways to keep their doors open without risking the health of students, faculty and staff. Preventive measures that work well in other large public facilities point the way toward solutions for schools, as well.

With locations in four states, the Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) operates large retail destinations with hundreds of employees and thousands of visitors. NFM's Dallas home-furnishing showcase covers the equivalent of nine football fields. Like a campus, this massive retail destination is full of high-touch surfaces. To protect customers and staff, NFM installed antimicrobial copper surfaces onto nearly 200 touch points throughout its facility.

This approach reflects the results of recent stringent United States EPA testing, which proved that regularly cleaned antimicrobial copper surfaces provide continuous, residual self-sanitizing properties that kill more than 99.9% of MRSA, VRE, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7 within 2 hours of exposure. Because copper continuously kills microbes that cause infections, including SARS-CoV-2—the cause of COVID-19—these tests earned copper alloys the first EPA public health registration for a touch surface material that can kill bacteria continuously.

The not-for-profit Copper Development Association (CDA) and Copper Alliance provides additional information about the EPA registration and the benefits of antimicrobial copper at SaferWithCopper.org/Schools.

NFM recognized the value of protecting high-touch surfaces and became an early adopter of antimicrobial copper as an effective way to protect customers and employees. In 2020, NFM applied self-adhesive Copper Clean® Self-Sanitizing Surface Patches in targeted areas of the Dallas facility. These protections included products designed to wrap around pull bars and push plates at entrances to offices and restrooms, all of which top lists of high-touch surfaces where dangerous microbes can thrive.

This installation shows how copper's proven ability to kill viruses continuously can protect many people within large facilities—results that translate easily to protection for students, teachers and staff alike. As the pandemic continues to affect the status of education, challenging school districts to develop plans that protect the need to learn, antimicrobial copper can play an effective role in a lasting strategy to combat the spread of infection. This protection can offer peace of mind for administrators, teachers and parents as they protect the safety of a generation.

Adam Estelle is the Vice President of Copper Development Association (CDA).

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