[Pharmwaste] Silver Spoons and Hand Sanitizer

Ed Gottlieb egottlieb at cityofithaca.org
Fri Oct 2 07:21:35 EDT 2009

Hi Chuck,

I did an experiment in high school, putting different metals in the center of petri dishes that had been inoculated with bacteria.  There were no growth rings around the metals, a small one for copper, larger for silver, and very large for mercury.

Massive amounts of copper salts have been widely used in wood preservative chemicals since they are quite toxic to microorganisms.
Silver nano particles are now, controversially, being used as an anti-bacterial additive to clothing.

No doubt copper or silver containing door knobs would cut down on bacterial survival.  How significant that effect would be over the short time period between knob uses is an important question.  If it is significant effect, copper would probably have a good economic return.  Silver is quite a bit more expensive and I'm not at all certain what a cost/benefit analysis would show.

Thankfully, no one is proposing a sanitizer with mercury, at least as far as I know.

Ed Gottlieb
Pretreatment Coordinator
525 3rd Street
Ithaca, NY  14850
(607) 273-8381

>>> "Chuck Lie" <Chuck at terra-associates.com> 10/1/2009 4:02 PM >>>
A year or two ago a colleague mentioned that copper had antibiotic
properties and if used on door knobs would cut the spread of infections
in hospitals.  I asked her if it was silver she was referring to.  The
Wikipedia article on silver says that there is research into this.
Would silver plated door knobs help?  I have heard that being born with
a silver spoon in your mouth was not necessarily a sign of being rich as
much as a sign the baby would be healthier.  

Or has further research shown side issues besides a possible cost and
maintenance issue with the use of silver in skin contact areas like door
knobs and handles.

Charles R. Lie, LEG, LHG

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