Teck Resources Limited has announced it is partnering with TransLink, Vancouver Coastal Health, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Coalition for Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction (“CHAIR”) and the University of British Columbia to test antimicrobial copper coatings on high-touch transit surfaces on buses and SkyTrain in Vancouver, Canada.
Copper alloy surfaces are naturally antimicrobial with self-sanitising properties, with research showing that these surfaces eliminate up to 99.9% of harmful bacteria and viruses.
This project is the first of its kind on a transit system in North America and the latest in Teck’s ongoing efforts to promote the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in healthcare and public spaces through its Copper & Health Program.
The pilot project, fully funded by Teck, will run for an initial phase of four weeks with various copper surfaces installed on two buses on high-ridership routes and two SkyTrain cars. An organosilane surface preservative will also be tested that has the potential to control and/or prevent the growth of microorganisms on treated surfaces.
“We are proud to be working with all the partners on this important pilot project to expand the use of antimicrobial copper in high-traffic public areas and prevent infections,” said Don Lindsay, president and CEO, Teck.
Through the Copper & Health program, Teck has been partnering with healthcare professionals, academia and others for years to help make communities safer. This pilot builds on those efforts at a critical time as the world works to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“This project builds on preceding research and 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 at Vancouver Coastal Health.
“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.”
“We’re proud to be the first transit agency in North America to pilot this industry-leading technology and I look forward to working closely with our project partners. We’ve been carefully examining new ways to ensure transit is one of the safest public spaces throughout the pandemic. The risk of COVID-19 transmission on transit remains extremely low and this initiative will only bolster our comprehensive cleaning and disinfection protocols, which are already in place. Any findings from this pilot project will be shared with our fellow transit agency colleagues and other industries which may be able to use this emerging technology,” said Kevin Desmond, TransLink CEO.
“Our Foundation plays a vital role in funding innovation through medical research in BC. Donor funding has played a role - here in BC and globally - to accelerate our understanding of the COVID-19 virus and its transmission. This project will leverage the expertise of Vancouver Coastal Health’s Infection Prevention & Control team to determine the public health benefits of copper in reducing transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses. We are grateful for the partnership of Teck and TransLink to make this very special “made in BC” research project possible,” said Angela Chapman, President & CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.