TransLink study shows copper effectively kills bacteria on transit surfaces

Study was launched as part of transit agency's COVID-19 response

March 05, 2021 / 2 minute read
public transportation

Results from a trial from TransLink—a public transit provider in Vancouver, British Columbia—show that copper is effective at killing bacteria on high-touch transit surfaces.

Based on sample-testing performed on transit and in a lab, the trial concludes that select copper products on transit are durable and kill up to 99.9% of all bacteria within one hour of the bacteria’s contact with the surface.

Phase one of the pilot, which was fully funded by Teck Resources Limited, began in November 2020 and lasted five weeks on two buses and two SkyTrain cars. To expand on phase one’s results, a second phase will be launched in the coming months to verify the results with a larger sample of data.

The pilot’s second phase will include testing copper products on more train cars and buses; testing over a longer amount of time to analyze varied conditions; focused tests on the products that were most effective in TransLink's transit environment; and public engagement to measure copper’s impact on customer confidence.

“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," Gigi Chen-Kuo, TransLink Interim CEO, said 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 was the first transit agency in North America to test copper on transit surfaces. The pilot was launched as part of TransLink’s COVID-19 response through the Safe Operating Action Plan because of preceding studies showing that copper is both durable and effective at killing bacteria.  

The pilot is the result of a partnership between TransLink, Teck, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), the University of British Columbia (UBC), and the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. The initial phase was fully funded by Teck, as part of its Copper & Health program. The second phase will also be supported by Teck.

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SOURCE: TransLink

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