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!
Breast tumor stiffness and metastasis risk linked by molecule's movement
21.04.2015 | University of California - San Diego
New signaling pathway discovered in HER2-positive breast cancer, and 2 powerful drug targets
21.04.2015 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.
In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in the academic journal Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.
Dr. Artur Erbe, physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller – while also...
Cells of the vascular system of vertebrates can fuse with themselves. This process, which occurs when a blood vessel is no longer necessary and pruned, has now been described on the cellular level by Prof. Markus Affolter from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The findings of this study have been published in the journal “PLoS Biology”.
The vascular system is the supply network of the human organism and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the last corners of the body. So far, research on the...
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a...
A team of physicists from MPQ, Caltech, and ICFO proposes the combination of nano-photonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems and creating new states of matter.
Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, that are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have been proven to be one of the most...
13.04.2015 | Event News
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
21.04.2015 | Life Sciences
21.04.2015 | Life Sciences
21.04.2015 | Information Technology