TransLink pilot project finds copper surfaces kill 99.9% of pathogens within one hour

Mar 4 2021, 7:15 pm

The use of copper materials for high-touch surfaces on public transit can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria within one hour of the bacteria’s contact with the surface.

That is the finding of the first phase of the pilot project on TransLink’s system that began in November 2020 on two buses and two SkyTrain cars.

According to a release, a second phase of the project will be launched over the coming months to verify the results with a larger sample of data, including testing copper products on more train cars and buses, testing over a longer time period to analyze varied conditions, focusing tests on products that were most effective on transit, and public consultation.

Copper has already been deemed a durable material. The second phase will look at copper’s impact on viruses.

“We are excited about the positive results in the first phase of our copper pilot and look forward to finding out more about copper’s impact on viruses such as the ones that cause COVID-19 in the pilot’s second phase,” said Gigi Chen-Kuo, TransLink Interim CEO, in a statement.

“TransLink is proud to be the first North American agency to conduct such a trial to understand how we can continue to make transit safer for our customers. This research could help us, other transit agencies and anyone with surfaces in shared public spaces keep high-touch areas as clean as possible.”

TransLink copper and organosilane pilot

Copper alloy being tested on high-touch surfaces. (TransLink)

During the first phase, the products that performed best were copper decals and copper-nickel plasma sprays. Approximately 1,140 samples were collected and analyzed to determine effectiveness.

This project is a partnership with the public transit authority, Vancouver Coastal Health (VGH), University of British Columbia (UBC), the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, and Teck, which is fully funding the cost of the first and second phases.

Copper is the only solid metal touch surface proven to naturally eliminate up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

“This project has been an incredible opportunity for our team to export our expertise and experience on self-disinfecting materials from the health care setting to our community,” said Dr. Marthe Charles, a Medical Microbiologist at VCH.

“We were pleased to see that the results from the trial were in line with our previous studies in the hospital setting and are excited to further our understanding of the application of copper and its antimicrobial properties on public transit.”


Copper alloy being tested on high-touch surfaces. (TransLink)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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