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Metallurgy and Health

Our country is always looking for sources of energy and one of the industries in the US is mining.  We mostly hear about mining for coal since we need to run our electric plants and heat our homes.  Scientists are looking at other areas, particularly metals and seeing how they can impact your health.  The big health issue in the news is the dramatic increase in hospital infections such as MRSA and C-diff.  These infections can be life-threatening so coming up with new and innovative ideas for curbing the spread of infection is welcomed.

Last Friday, NPR’s Science Friday had a scientist on who was discussing the impact of copper on your health.  We all remember all those folks wearing copper bracelets in hopes of curing arthritis, but as it turns out copper may be bacteria’s worst enemy.

Preliminary studies show that copper and its alloys, brass and bronze, have anti-microbial effects.  In essence, they serve as sanitizers or resistors to infection.  A study is being conducted looking at the impact that having copper covered bed rails, call buttons, etc. will decrease the transmission of life compromising infections.  The study is being conducted at three hospitals: Memorial-Sloan Kettering, The VA in Charleston and MUSC also in Charleston.  The researchers chose three hospitals that have specific populations that might be more prone to these hospital based infections.

It’s this type of research that is working to make hospitals safer.  No one wants to spend any time in a hospital but if you do wouldn’t it be nice to know that your environment isn’t a bigger health risk then the disease that’s challenging you?  Any steps we can take to make the hospital a place that truly works to ward off disease and promote health is a step in the right direction.

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