University of Leicester researchers discover sweat can cause corrosion of protective qualities of door knobs and taps within an hour of contact
Sweaty hands can reduce the effectiveness of bacteria-fighting brass objects in hospitals and schools after just an hour of coming into contact with them, according to scientists at the University of Leicester.
While copper found in everyday brass items such as door handles and water taps has an antimicrobial effect on bacteria and is widely used to prevent the spread of disease, Dr John Bond OBE from the University of Leicester's Department of Chemistry has discovered that peoples' sweat can, within an hour of contact with the brass, produce sufficient corrosion to adversely affect its use to kill a range of microorganisms, such as those which might be encountered in a hospital and which can be easily transferred by touch or by a lack of hand hygiene.
Dr Bond explained: "The antimicrobial effect of copper has been known for hundreds of years. It is thought to occur as a result of a charge exchange between copper and bacteria, which leads to a degradation of the bacteria DNA. We have discovered that the salt in sweat corrodes the metal, forming an oxide layer on its surface, which is the process of corrosion - and this corrosive layer is known to inhibit the effect of the copper.
We have shown that it is possible for sweat to produce an oxide layer on the metal within an hour of contact.
"While it is well known that sweat corrodes brass, this is the first study to quantitatively analyse the temporal corrosion of copper alloys such as brass in the first few hours after contact between fingerprint sweat concentrations of salt and the metal."
The research paper entitled 'Electrochemical behaviour of brass in chloride solution concentrations found in eccrine fingerprint sweat', published in the journal Applied Surface Science was co-authored by Elaine Lieu as part of a third year Interdisciplinary Science project investigating how easily and quickly sweat can corrode brass at the University of Leicester.
Dr Bond added: "Opportunities to improve hospital hygiene are being investigated by the University of Leicester from seemingly un-connected areas of research. This research is a different application of the study of fingerprint sweat corrosion of brass, applied to hygiene rather than to crime investigation.
"My short term advice is to keep the brass in public environments free from corrosion through regular and thorough cleaning. In the longer term, using copper alloys with corrosion inhibitors included in the alloy would be a good choice.
"While more research is needed in the study of sweat and brass corrosion, anywhere that needs to prevent the spread of bacteria, such as public buildings, schools and hospitals should be looking at using copper alloy on everyday items to help in avoiding the spread of disease."
Dr. John Bond | Eurek Alert!
Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections
17.02.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Tiny magnetic implant offers new drug delivery method
14.02.2017 | University of British Columbia
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine