Every day, high-touch surfaces present health risks to the public. But copper surfaces can help. With naturally antimicrobial properties, copper can help stop the spread of bacteria. And by working together to introduce more copper surfaces in public spaces, we can too.
The Power of Antimicrobial Copper
Copper has unique antimicrobial properties and is proven to continuously kill bacteria that cause infection, is safe for people and the environment, and is the only solid metal touch surface registered as a public health product by Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. When installed on high touch surfaces, copper will eliminate up to 99.9% of harmful bacteria within two hours.
Antimicrobial copper supplements standardized cleaning by killing bacteria around the clock. As a result, around the world there is growing use of antimicrobial copper to reduce the spread of infections; in transit, commercial spaces, sports facilities, and most importantly, healthcare facilities.
How Antimicrobial Copper Works
Historically, copper’s antimicrobial properties have been well known among ancient civilizations and copper was often used for skin ailments, wound healing and water purification. Copper was first clinically investigated for its antimicrobial properties in 1983. Since then, multiple clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of antimicrobial copper in deactivating bacteria and viruses.
Antimicrobial copper is effective against bacteria that causes common diseases like staph infections and E. coli. The metal continuously kills bacteria, never wears out and requires no new processes, staff training or special maintenance. It’s 100% recyclable, and minimal amounts are needed for a product to reach antimicrobial efficacy.
Learn more about how antimicrobial copper works by reading this white paper developed in partnership with KPMG and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.
Bacteria-killing copper installed on Toronto and Vancouver transit vehicles
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Reducing Healthcare-acquired Infections
In healthcare facilities across Canada and around the world, harmful bacteria exist on commonly touched surfaces. As a result, patients, healthcare workers and visitors are at risk of becoming infected with serious healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). More than 220,000 patients will contract an HAI while receiving care in Canada annually, and between 8,000 and 12,000 of these patients will die as a result each year.
HAIs cost the Canadian healthcare system in the range of $4 billion annually. Implementing antimicrobial copper could reduce HAIs by about 20%, creating nearly $1 billion in savings for the healthcare system.
Use of antimicrobial copper can also reduce infections that may be acquired in the broader community through shared spaces and infrastructure.
Teck is a proud member of the Coalition for Community and Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction and is supporting its goal of an 80% reduction in HAIs. Learn more.
Teck's Copper & HealthProgram
As a major copper producer, we are committed to raising awareness and advocating for the use of copper as an innovative solution to healthcare-acquired infections, as well as infections resulting from bacteria spread in busy public spaces.
The Copper & Health program has two key goals:
To improve health outcomes for people and communities
To raise awareness about the important role that mining and metals play in our everyday lives.
There is no commercial benefit to Teck from the increased use of copper in healthcare, as the total quantity of metal required is extremely small. However, Teck works in partnership with companies that manufacture antimicrobial copper products to deliver demonstration and research projects to build awareness of the benefits of copper.
These companies include Aereus Technologies, Coptek, EOScu and Trimco. All antimicrobial copper products made by these companies are fully registered with Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Teck is also partnering with the Mike Holmes Group to establish the Healthy Surfaces Collective, which brings together antimicrobial technologies with original equipment manufacturers to draw attention to how these products can make a difference.
Partnerships Demonstratingthe Impact of Copper
While antimicrobial copper has been deployed around the world, we are still learning about its full capabilities to decrease risks of bacterial and infection spread in diverse settings
The Copper & Health program is creating partnerships with leading public and private organizations to install and demonstrate the use of antimicrobial copper across sectors to grow knowledge and awareness.
Copper & Health in Transportation
With Canadians’ concern for health and safety in public spaces heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Teck has funded the Copper in Transit program to explore the efficacy of antimicrobial copper in public transit.
Phase 1 of this industry-leading project — the first of its kind on a transit system in North America — demonstrated that select copper products killed up to 99.9% of all bacteria in contact with the copper surfaces when installed in select transit vehicles.
During this phase, Teck partnered with TransLink, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, the Coalition for Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction Canada (CHAIR), and the University of British Columbia (UBC) for the first phase of the trial, which ran for six weeks with the results made public in March 2021.
Phase 2 of the project expanded beyond Metro Vancouver with the added participation of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the Mount Sinai Hospital/University Network.
Launched in September of 2021, this phase applied antimicrobial copper products to high-touch surfaces on several TTC buses, subway cars, and streetcars, as well as several TransLink buses and SkyTrain cars. Phase 2 tested three types of registered products, including functional copper surface layers, copper alloys, and copper decals, over the course of the year.
Regular bacteria testing (every two months) was analyzed from copper surfaces as well as non-copper surfaces on transit by Vancouver Coastal Health’ medical microbiology team, supported by Mount Sinai Hospital/University Health Network in Toronto and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In addition, Vancouver Coastal Health conducted in-lab virus and bacterial testing simulated a year’s worth of use, including disinfectant cleaning and human touch (sweat). The copper products showed consistent and sustained antimicrobial activity through the course of the testing, showing that cleaners and human use did not affect the efficacy of the copper in killing surface bacteria and viruses
First of its Kind Joint Study Demonstrates Copper’s Effectiveness at Killing Bacteria and Viruses on Public Transit
Announced in May 2023, this collaborative cross-Canadian partnership between infection control researchers, transit authorities and private industry has demonstrated the effectiveness of antimicrobial copper to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses in public spaces. The results of a successfully completed, one-year study, led by the medical microbiology research team at Vancouver Coastal Health and hosted by TransLink and Toronto Transit Commission, found that select copper products on public transit can eliminate up to 99.9% of bacteria.
Antimicrobial copper coatings on high-touch transit surfaces are being piloted for their capacity to help reduce the spread of infection
Teck has partnered with the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) — Canada’s second busiest airport — to become Canada’s first airport to install antimicrobial copper surfaces and equipment.
Launched in May 2022, the project saw nearly 1,000 antimicrobial copper applications installed on baggage carts, water fountains and washrooms throughout the terminal as well as YVR’s offices, with plans to further expand the installation of antimicrobial copper at YVR in the future. This project utilizes Health Canada registered CuVerro Shield™ by Aereus Technologies and Copper Clean by CopTek.
Partnering with Teck’s Copper & Health program adds an extra layer of reassurance to help YVR deliver a safe, healthy and seamless experience for everyone travelling through the airport.
Copper & Health in Healthcare
Teck is partnering with leading hospitals throughout B.C. to support innovative, new infrastructure developments and the installation of antimicrobial copper surfaces to help reduce the spread of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) and keep patients, staff and visitors healthy.
Copper has already been utilized in Vancouver General Hospital, Lions Gate Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital and Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in British Columbia, and Iquique Hospital in Chile.
Teck recently announced additional new partnerships to expand the network of hospitals utilizing antimicrobial copper.
Copper-infused counters at VGH are helping to reduce HAI infection rates
St. Paul’s Hospital Redevelopment Project
In March 2021, Teck announced a $10 million donation to help build the Emergency Department at the new St. Paul’s Hospital at the Jim Pattison Medical Centre. In addition to addressing the most pressing issues facing emergency departments—including wait times for access to treatment and the increasing trend of patients with complex mental-health and substance-use needs—the new facility will also provide improved protection from HAIs through the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces.
Lions Gate Hospital Redevelopment Project
In November 2021, Teck announced a $750,000 donation to Lions Gate Hospital Foundation to contribute to Vancouver Coastal Health’s Redevelopment Project and construction of the Paul Myers Tower Acute Care Facility at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver. Part of Teck’s contribution will support the installation of antimicrobial copper surfaces, including door handles, light switches, IV poles, bed rails, door handles, countertops, and other high-touch surfaces.
Royal Inland Hospital Emergency Department
In April 2022, Teck announced a $2.5 million donation to Royal Inland Hospital's new emergency department in Kamloops.
Construction was launched in October 2022 and is scheduled to complete in 2026.
The new Teck Emergency Department will feature the installation of innovative antimicrobial copper surfaces and equipment to help protect patients and healthcare workers. The facility upgrades will result in reduced wait times for access to treatment for people when they need it most.
Ktunaxa Regional Health Centre
Teck and the Ktunaxa Regional Health Centre announced in May 2023 a partnership to install antimicrobial copper on high- touch, high-traffic surfaces in the new facility. These surfaces can effectively eliminate up to 99.9% of bacteria within two hours of contact, and help protect the health of patients, health workers, and visitors.
Copper & Health in Education
Teck has partnered with four of B.C.'s largest post-secondary institutions to install antimicrobial copper surfaces on campuses ahead of students returning for the fall semester. The installations were completed to help reduce the spread of harmful bacteria on high-touch surfaces, while increasing awareness of copper’s antimicrobial properties and highlighting Teck’s involvement in creating safer public spaces.
British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)
Teck has now installed 1,595 antimicrobial copper surfaces across 11 buildings at BCIT's Burnaby campus with plans to install them at the Downtown, Annacis Island, and Aerospace technology campuses.
Additionally, in October 2022 Teck announced a $1.4 million contribution to BCIT’s recently completed Health Sciences Centre (HSC) – which will also be home to the Teck Copper Café – and $3.6 million to support the new BCIT Trades and Technology Complex. The complex will feature leading-edge learning tools and revitalized spaces to foster integrated learning and simulate real-world environments.
In January 2023 Teck and BCIT announced the opening of the Teck Copper Innovation Hub, made possible by a $1.75 million donation from Teck, which will enable BCIT researchers and students to research and test the use of antimicrobial copper in a range of healthcare devices using 3D printing.
Simon Fraser University (SFU)
In September 2021, Teck announced a partnership with SFU to outfit campuses and student residences with more than 1,600 copper patches.
Thompson Rivers University (TRU)
Announced in September 2022, Teck partnered with TRU to install more than 650 antimicrobial copper surfaces at three key buildings on the Kamloops campus: Old Main, the Campus Activity Centre and the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health. This aided university administrators in creating a safe environment to limit the spread of infection from communicable diseases as students returned to campus for the fall semester.
University of British Columbia (UBC)
More than 400 antimicrobial patches have been installed at UBC Faculty of Applied Science buildings. Announced on March 2022, this partnership includes research that will further the development of advanced copper coating technology to reduce the spread of infection.
Antimicrobial copper patches were installed on high-touch surfaces including door handles and push bars. Posters, email and social media posts highlighting the use of antimicrobial copper on campus were used to compliment the installation and increase awareness among students, faculty, staff and visitors.
With Copper & Health’s support, UBC researchers recently developed a new copper coating that kills bacteria quicker and in greater amounts than current formulations.
Early Childhood Education
Laugh and Learn Daycare
Teck has partnered with the Laugh and Learn Daycare in Logan Lake, British Columbia, to help construct the first daycare in Canada to include the installation of antimicrobial copper to help protect the health and safety of children, staff, families, and visitors.
Announced in April 2022, this new facility was funded by the Province of British Columbia’s ChildcareBC New Spaces fund program and the District of Logan Lake with contributions from Teck to support the capital construction and inclusion of antimicrobial copper.
The project includes the installation of over 150 antimicrobial copper touch surfaces on door and cupboard handles, countertops, washroom latches, coat hooks, toilet seats, and water faucets treated with Health Canada registered CuVerrotm Shield by Aereus Technology.
Thompson Rivers University Early Childhood Education Centre
Teck also installed copper surfaces at TRU’s Early Childhood Education Centre – which was opened in October 2022 – and provided funding for an outdoor playground. This 2,000-square-metre facility provides much-needed space for kids, students, educators and researchers.
Copper & Health in Culture and Sport
Cultural and Learning Institutions
Royal Ontario Museum
Teck has partnered with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Ontario to outfit ROM with innovative antimicrobial copper surfaces. Announced in July 2022, ROM is the first museum in Canada to incorporate antimicrobial copper, which includes door handles, washroom stall latches and other high-touch surfaces to provide an added layer of protection to ensure the health and safety of all those who visit this landmark institution.
This partnership also supports an interactive digital educational program to explain the health benefits of copper and illustrate the important role this natural resource plays in today and for the low-carbon future. This initiative will become part of the curriculum-based programs at ROM.
Teck has partnered with Science World to outfit high-traffic areas with antimicrobial copper surfaces, adding an extra layer of protection for about 1 million guests each year.
Announced in September 2022, this partnership will also include Teck becoming the presenting sponsor of Science World’s Geology Science Exhibit which now includes new interactive and educational displays to help visitors discover how metals are used in our daily lives.
Teck, National Partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee, in partnership with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute (COPSI) Network, is outfitting high-performance Team Canada training facilities with antimicrobial copper on high-touch surfaces to protect athletes.
The Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary) and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) were selected as pilot project locations to include antimicrobial copper on exercise equipment and high-touch spaces, such as weights, exercise equipment and door handles.
Copper & Health Protecting Athletes with Team Canada | Liam Gill
Copper & Health Protecting Athletes with Team Canada | Anna Aylwin
Copper & Health Protecting Athletes with Team Canada | Sheldon Persad
Copper & Health Protecting Athletes with Team Canada | Madeline Schizas
Copper & Health in the Workplace
Teck Offices and Sites
Teck is enhancing its measures to protect the health and safety of its workforce by installing antimicrobial copper across its sites. To date this has included its corporate offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Santiago.
We are now expanding the installation across our operating sites in North America, identifying the most impactful upgrades to help keep our people safer from the spread of infection.
Building the Evidence Base
While the science behind the effectiveness of antimicrobial copper has been proven through over 200 peer-reviewed studies and publications, the Copper & Health program continues to support expanding the evidence base. Our goal is to build knowledge and understanding about the best uses and durability of antimicrobial copper in multiple settings through partnerships with infection-control specialists and research institutions across North America.
SARS-Cov-2 Copper Alloy Study (in progress)
A study currently underway at George Washington University will directly test copper’s impacts on the novel coronavirus, including varied alloys, time periods and conditions. It will build on a previous National Institute of Health study that showed that SARS-CoV-2 was completely destroyed within four hours on copper surfaces, as compared to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Results of the Teck-supported study are expected later this year.
Cross-Canada Durability Study
From 2017-2020, Teck supported a study in four hospitals across Canada to examine the long-term effectiveness and durability of antimicrobial copper in hospital settings. The study included Vancouver General Hospital, B.C. Children’s and Women’s Hospital, Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, and Toronto’s North York General Hospital.
The study, published in February 2020 in the Journal of Biointerphases, found that three copper products exhibited significant (albeit varied) bacterial reduction compared to stainless steel, and maintained their efficacy over time; showcasing the value of upfront investment in self-sanitizing surfaces.
CSA Standard on Healthcare Cleaning & Infection
In March 2020, the Canadian Standards Association published the first national standard in Canada related to the cleaning and disinfection of healthcare facilities.
The standard will improve healthcare cleaning procedures and encourage innovative approaches that are being increasingly adopted around the world. It includes the first formal recommendation in Canada to introduce coppers surfaces as a means to reduce the spread of infection in hospitals. The International Standards Organization is now developing a global standard based on Canada’s publication.
Copper in Transit Research Program
The ongoing Copper in Transit pilot project will include a significant research component by evaluating copper surfaces across transit vehicles in two regions over the course of a year. This trial will test three types of registered products on buses, subway cars and streetcars in the Greater Toronto Area and buses and Skytrains in Metro Vancouver.
Advocating For The Adoption of Copper
As evidence and in-hospital use of copper surfaces increases throughout Canada, we continue to see growing interest from a number of key stakeholders. Teck is sharing research and information with federal and provincial government agencies responsible for healthcare, education, transportation and infrastructure, public buildings and procurement, and innovation.
Through direct outreach, as well as with trusted advocates such as the Coalition for Community and Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction Canada (CHAIR), we are continuing to work with government to establish standards and recommendations for the greater use of antimicrobial copper in all new healthcare facility projects, as well as in major public infrastructure.
Teck also continues to build public knowledge and understanding of the use of copper through profiling our major partnership project and providing public information about the benefits of antimicrobial copper through videos and social media content as well as contributions to major publications.
World Health Organization
According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance is one of the ten threats to global health in 2019. Without effective antibiotics, minor infections and medical procedures will become increasingly dangerous. Antimicrobial copper surfaces are one solution: they reduce the spread of infection and prevent the transfer of antibiotic resistance between bacteria on those surfaces. (WHO)