Brass surfaces may be going out of fashion, but brass could provide significant health benefits over more modern materials like stainless steel and plastic. Brass has been shown to reduce and kill bacteria quickly, according to a recent study published in Molecular Genetics of Bacteria. In contrast, bacteria can survive for weeks on steel and plastic surfaces.
Touching contaminated surfaces is one of the main ways superbugs like MRSA are spread. And many high-touch public surfaces are not cleaned or disinfected regularly. Surface materials such as brass that inherently kill bacteria could reduce the risk of spreading superbugs in both the community and in hospitals.
Can brass help stop the creation of superbugs?
An especially interesting finding of the study is that brass also destroys the DNA that dead bacteria leave behind on surfaces. This DNA can be picked up by other bacteria, even different kinds of bacteria, and it can help them learn how to resist antibiotics. This “transfer of information” from one to another is a growing way superbugs are being created. So, brass surfaces now have a two-fold advantage – they have been shown to help reduce antibiotic resistance in addition to reducing the risk of catching an infection.
Brass contains copper and this study shows it’s a better material than stainless steel, aluminum and plastic for controlling bacterial contamination of surfaces such as door knobs, hand rails and other high contact objects. More attention has lately been placed on using naturally bacterial resistant materials for use in public places and hospitals. I think this is a fabulous idea as these materials are much safer for children, adults, and pets and for our environment, rather than repeatedly using toxic disinfectants.
While using more brass in hospitals, public places or even your home could reduce the risks of catching infections, it’s not a cure-all. Good hygiene, hand washing and support of your immune system should still be the main focus of anyone trying to reduce their chances of infection.
To your best health,
Horizontal Transfer of Antibiotic Resistance Genes on Abiotic Touch Surfaces: Implications for Public Health, Warnes, Highmore, and Keevil, http://mbio.asm.org/content/3/6/e00489-12.abstract
Fit brass fixtures to cut superbugs, say scientists http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9762689/Fit-brass-fixtures-to-cut-superbugs-say-scientists.html