[Current situation and problems associated with inactivation of microorganisms in water using copper].

Naohiro Kishida, Dai Simazaki, Koji Kosaka, Ruka Kosuge, Michihiro Akiba, Kenji Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The current situation and problems associated with inactivation of microorganisms in water using copper were elucidated. A literature review was conducted regarding the history and mechanisms of inactivation technology using copper, the variety of microorganisms shown to be inactivated by these methods in previous experiments, and the efficacy of such technologies for the inactivation of microorganisms in water. The use of copper for inactivation of microorganisms has a long history. Although the use of copper was discontinued temporarily owing to the advent of antibiotics in the 1930s, the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has resulted in the need for different approaches to control pathogenic microorganisms. One such alternative is the use of copper. Although the mechanisms underlying the efficacy of copper inactivation technology have not yet been elucidated in detail, it has been suggested that pathogenic bacteria are inactivated due to the toxicity of copper ions and strong oxidation effects of reactive oxygen species. Copper inactivation technology is effective against many pathogenic microorganisms that pose a risk to public health, such as Legionella pneumophila, Salmonella enterica, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In recent years, copper inactivation technology has been used in various water-related devices, especially water supply pipes in buildings. Previous studies have demonstrated that microorganisms can be sufficiently inactivated by copper even at concentrations below that specified in the Water Quality Standard for Drinking Water. However, some previous studies have indicated that the inactivation effect of copper is short-lived. Therefore, the development of techniques to maintain a long-term inactivation effect is a key concern. In addition, it has been reported that the use of copper pipes triggers chlorine decay and results in the formation of chlorine disinfection byproducts. Hence, further studies should aim at assessing the risks and benefits associated with the use of copper. Although the practical issues regarding copper inactivation technology are persistent, this method has been demonstrated to be efficacious. Therefore, this technology could be expected to be used in many devices such as water supply systems in hospitals in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-585
Number of pages7
Journal[Nippon koshu eisei zasshi] Japanese journal of public health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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