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All CO2 Incubator Copper is Not Created Equal White Paper

All Copper is Not Created Equal

CuVerro® bactericidal copper alloy surfaces are available options for NuAire CO2 incubators, and can be used for the entire incubator chamber and as for shelving. CuVerro® is a copper-based alloy that continuously kills bacteria* commonly associated with life science laboratory contamination.

CO2 incubators are designed to provide an ideal environment for culturing cells, and most commonly are used to simulate the physiological conditions of mammalian cells. By maintaining a controlled CO2 level at 5%, stable temperature of 37ºC, and relative humidity of 95%, CO2 incubators are also ideal environments for the growth of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

The risk of microbial contamination of cell cultures occurs throughout the cell culture laboratory, from the biological safety cabinet to the placement of tissue culture flasks, bottles, and plates into the incubator. The biggest source of microbes is laboratory personnel. Microbes are circulated as airborne particles and aerosols and also colonize the layers and structures of the skin.

Basic good lab practice, including proper aseptic techniques when working with cells and reagents, is the most important factor in reducing the risk of contamination. However, unless the laboratory itself is a cleanroom facility, every time an incubator door is opened, microbes are introduced.

It is common to rely on chemical decontamination to clean incubators, but some of these processes can be harmful or damaging to people and equipment. Incubator manufacturers have now incorporated a number of new features and design improvements that are directed toward reducing the risk of contaminated cell cultures.2 Choosing the right equipment that suits your particular laboratory will help control contamination.

One incubator feature that actively reduces contamination* is antimicrobial copper touch surfaces. Copper has been used for thousands of years because of its antimicrobial properties. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered more than 300 copper alloys as effective antimicrobials, and that number has grown to over 400 today. This EPA registration allows companies who incorporate antimicrobial copper into their products to make public health claims, creating intense interest in its use for touch surfaces. Many bacteria are killed upon contact with clean copper alloy surfaces. Copper surfaces continuously kill 99.9% of bacteria* as long as they are kept free of wax or other coating agents.

According to the Copper Development Association, architects and designers specify copper-based materials with inherent antimicrobial properties to help reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria* on touch surfaces. EPA-registered antimicrobial copper alloys should be used to supplement routine cleaning and sanitizing practices and have the added benefit of killing bacteria* between regular cleanings.

*Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, CuVerro surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli O157:H7, and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE).

The use of CuVerro® bactericidal copper products is a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices, including those practices related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces. This surface has been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but it does not necessarily prevent cross contamination. CuVerro® is a registered trademark of GBC Metals, LLC and is used with permission (NA-0008-1510). See for more details.