Copper ions, either alone or in copper complexes, have been used to disinfect liquids, solids and human tissue for centuries. Today copper is used as a water purifier, algaecide, fungicide, nematocide, molluscicide as well as an antibacterial and anti-fouling agent. Copper also displays potent anti-viral activity. This article reviews (i) the biocidal properties of copper; (ii) the possible mechanisms by which copper is toxic to microorganisms; and (iii) the systems by which many microorganisms resist high concentrations of heavy metals, with an emphasis on copper.
Keywords: bacteriostatic, gram-negative organisms, electroplated coatings, copper-impregnated fabrics, water purifier, antiviral, oxidizing agents, cell membrane, cell viability
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