Innovation That Matters

High-touch areas such as baggage trolleys at Vancouver International Airport will be covered in an antimicrobial copper coating | Photo source Vancouver International Airport

Antimicrobial copper used in airport to prevent infection

Health & Wellbeing

A Canadian airport has begun using copper on high-touch surfaces in order to prevent the spread of infection

Spotted: As travel returns to pre-coronavirus levels, there is renewed concern from travellers and epidemiologists about the spread of infection in crowded spaces like airports. And it’s not just COVID-19 that we need to be concerned about. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, air travel was a cause of introduction of the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2009 influenza A pandemic into many countries not previously affected.

To reassure passengers, and help prevent the spread of infection, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Canada is taking a new approach. They are partnering with Teck Resources to install antimicrobial copper on high-touch surfaces. More than 1,000 areas have already been treated with Teck’s antimicrobial copper applications, including baggage carts, offices, water fountains, and washrooms.

Copper has been demonstrated to have antimicrobial properties and copper-containing solutions can eliminate up to 99.9 per cent of harmful bacteria on treated surfaces. The airport is installing Teck’s antimicrobial copper solutions to provide an added layer of protection, in addition to normal cleaning procedures. The aim is to both improve safety and customer perception of safety in order to boost return traveller numbers to their pre-pandemic levels.

The use of the copper products is part of YVR’s Innovation Hub, which focuses on testing and trialling new processes and technologies produced by Canadian companies.

Airlines and airports are not the only ones focusing on keeping people safe in a post-pandemic world. Increased public awareness of environmental hygiene will likely require businesses to visibly increase cleaning regimes to reassure the public. Some creative solutions being developed include a fully automated system that enables businesses to disinfect surfaces on a pre-set schedule, and a non-toxic, bio-inspired surface cleaner that repels sticky dirt with nanoscopic hairs coated in lubricant. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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