Science

Copper masks: this is what you need to know about the latest fad against coronavirus

If you haven’t heard of copper masks or face masks yet, it won’t be long before you do. There are already several companies selling this new type of covid-19 pandemic protection, but why copper? Do they really provide any benefit over traditional masks? This is what you need to know.

Copper is an old medicine acquaintance for its proven properties, antimicrobial . In 1852, French physician Victor Burq observed that workers in the copper industry were less likely to contract cholera. The scientific explanation behind this curious phenomenon did not come until 1893, and it is called the oligodynamic effect. Some heavy metals such as copper, silver, gold, lead, or zinc release ions that interfere with the normal functioning of microorganisms. The effect is highly dependent on the type of bacteria or virus. In some cases, copper ions bind to lipids in the cell membrane, causing oxidation and breaking the covering that protects the microorganism. They literally pierce them. The toxic effect of this metal alsoIt damages the respiratory system of the bacterium E scherichia coli, and its ions also interact with the proteins of some viruses, deactivating them. In other cases, they even interfere with the DNA of the microorganism.

The interaction mechanisms are very different and in some cases they are still being studied, but we can stick with the idea that copper is a toxic substance for many microorganisms, which is why this humble metal has been used in hospitals for centuries to help create a more sterile environment. For example, it has been used in door knobs or taps, places of high contact with microorganisms due to its frequent use. An American company called Cupron even makes copper wire-infused fabrics for use on pillows and hospital sheets.

Does copper work against SARS-CoV-2? One of the few studies in this regard found that the new coronavirus was completely deactivated in just four hours when it fell on copper surfaces. Previous studies have proven the efficacy of copper in inactivating the influenza-causing H1N1 influenza virus.

Does this mean that a copper wire mask will better protect you from the coronavirus? Yes and no. For starters, we are talking about surgical masks that leave side holes through which air enters the same as in conventional masks. In other words, copper masks are designed to protect others in case you are the infected person, not to filter the air you breathe and prevent you from becoming infected. Wearing them doesn’t make you immune, but it probably does make you a better person.

So are we facing a scam? It depends on how they sell it to you. If they do it as a panacea to avoid the coronavirus, yes, of course. However, wearing a copper mask has some advantages over normal textile fabrics . The first is that the coronavirus dies faster when it falls on a copper surface. SARS-Cov-2 can survive for days on cotton fabric. This is why the mask does not have to be touched and must be washed or discarded after each use. The life time of the virus on a copper mask is only a few hours, which makes them more hygienic than conventional ones. However, that does not make you neglect hygiene (wash your hands)Or that you can keep the mask in your pocket and carry it like nothing for weeks. Fortunately, masks made of this material are also washable.

Finally, you have to pay attention to how the mask is made. The amount of copper and its purity are decisive in the antimicrobial effect. In fact, the only copper masks whose effectiveness has been verified in the laboratory are not sold to the general public. They are used in hospitals because they withstand continuous use better and the material from which they are made makes them more hygienic by contact. The problem is that the copper masks sold on the Internet do not have this certification. They literally have not been laboratory tested beyond what each manufacturer says .

Right now this type of mask with copper can be purchased on pages like Kuhn Copper Solutions , Atoms , Futon Shop , A rgaman , and even Amazon . Of course, none of them will make you immune to the coronavirus. The best measures are still washing your hands, not touching your face and keeping your distance. Masks, however, are still necessary, whether they are copper or not. [via Fast Company ]

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