Effects of temperature and humidity on the efficacy of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus challenged antimicrobial materials containing silver and copper



Society for applied microbiology




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H.T. Michels, J.O. Noyce, C.W. Keevil


Aims: To compare silver and copper, metals with known antimicrobial properties, by evaluating the effects of temperature and humidity on efficacy by challenging with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Methods and Results: Using standard methodology described in a globally used Japanese Industrial Standard, JIS Z 2801, a silver ion‐containing material exhibited >5 log reduction in MRSA viability after 24 h at >90% relative humidity (RH) at 20°C and 35°C but only a <0·3 log at ∼22% RH and 20°C and no reduction at ∼22% RH and 35°C. Copper alloys demonstrated >5 log reductions under all test conditions.

Conclusions: While the high humidity (>90% RH) and high temperature (35°C) utilized in JIS Z 2801 produce measurable efficacy in a silver ion‐containing material, it showed no significant response at lower temperature and humidity levels typical of indoor environments.

Significance and Impact of the Study: The high efficacy levels displayed by the copper alloys, at temperature and humidity levels typical of indoor environments, compared to the low efficacy of the silver ion‐containing material under the same conditions, favours the use of copper alloys as antimicrobial materials in indoor environments such as hospitals.