Border Control booths at Chile's Arturo Merino Benítez Airport have been upgraded to antimicrobial copper to reduce the spread of infections - including drug-resistant bacteria - to help protect the health of travellers and staff using the facilities.
Antimicrobial copper' is the collective name for a range of materials - comprising solid copper and copper alloys - that benefit from copper's inherent ability to rapidly kill bacteria, viruses and fungi that settle on its surface. As around 80% of infections are spread by touch, replacing frequently-touched surfaces such as door furniture, hand rails and light switches with antimicrobial copper equivalents is an additional way to prevent infections spreading, alongside good hand hygiene and regular surface cleaning.
More than six million people pass through Arturo Merino Benítez Airport's border control every day, offering ample opportunity for the spread of contamination via frequently-touched surfaces.
Professor Keevil, a leading expert in environmental health at the University of Southampton, explains the value of antimicrobial copper for public spaces: 'Copper touch surfaces have promise for preventing antibiotic resistance transfer in public buildings and mass transportation systems, which leads to local and - in the case of jet travel - rapid worldwide dissemination of multidrug-resistant superbugs as soon as they appear.
'People with inadequate hand hygiene from different countries could exchange their bugs and different antibiotic resistance genes just by touching a stair rail or door handle, ready to be picked up by someone else and passed on. Copper substantially reduces and restricts the spread of these and other infections, making an important contribution to improved hygiene and, consequently, health.'
Border control counters at Arturo Merino Benítez have been upgraded to antimicrobial copper. Prefect Inspector Alfredo Chiang Chau, of the Investigative Police Department in charge of border control, says of the choice: 'Every day, we receive significant numbers of passengers from all over the world, meaning the department has to provide an integrated service, engaged with the community, which meets the highest international standards.'
This installation follows the upgrade of desks and hand rails at Brazil's Congonhas Airport, handrails on Chile's subway train network and handholds and poles on the Valparaiso Metro, showing an increasing interest in preventing the spread of infection at mass transit hubs.
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