At veterinary practice in Phalaborwa, clients are noticing an unusual infection control measure: copper

JOHANNESBURG – October 11, 2013 – Copper is inherently antimicrobial, meaning it rapidly and completely kills disease-causing bacteria and viruses on contact.  It shares this benefit with many of its commonly used alloys, such as brass and bronze, and together these materials are called “antimicrobial copper”.  Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and push plates, light switches, grab rails and counter tops, are already being made from antimicrobial copper and installed in hospitals around the world.  Dr Sampie Ras’ veterinary practice, however, is the first in South Africa to harness the antimicrobial properties of copper to help protect animals. The Ras SJ and Scheepers Veterinary Practice was established in 1979 by Dr Ras and his wife, and was the first in the Phalaborwa area.  At that time it serviced the surrounding cattle farms, and its patients mostly comprised of cattle, horses, farm animals and domestic pets.  After eight years, with the addition of Dr Scheepers to the fold, the practice expanded to include a specialisation in game animals. In early 2011, with great foresight, Dr Ras decided to clad the practice’s operating tables with copper.  Describing the benefits he says: “We can see up to 30 or 40 sick animals per day.  It is comforting to know that we have gone one step further than simply disinfecting to protect the healthy animals sharing the same tables; those just getting a vaccination, for example. The previous surfaces were stainless steel, which is one of the most bacteria and microbe-friendly metals.  With some operations taking over an hour, the copper keeps on disinfecting beneath the patient while we are working.  This was never possible before.” He was so impressed with the antimicrobial efficacy of the copper cladding, and with how quick and inexpensive it was to install, that he opted to install more antimicrobial copper on all the touch surfaces in the practice’s “clean” areas; namely the theatre and vaccine room.  “We now have many copper touch surfaces.  All the light switches, the vaccine fridge door handle, disinfectant bottles, and the operation lights and table handles and levers are now copper.  These were usually only disinfected once per day.  Now, in between those cleans, the surfaces are continuously killing germs and helping protect our patients. The further cladding of our door handles and taps will follow.” Evert Swanepoel, centre director of the Copper Development Association Africa, asked Dr Ras to take cultures from the copper clad operating tables to be sent to a laboratory which would test them for pathogenic microbes.  He says: “On both occasions the tests came back as ‘culture negative’, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the new surfaces were doing their job.” Dr Ras adds that previously, with the stainless steel surfaces, these tests always came back positive. “I would highly recommend the installation of copper touch surfaces to my colleagues in the veterinary field. Copper cladding is highly effective, yet eminently affordable, and quick to install.  I would suggest to those interested in this solution to pay attention to those areas within their practice that they touch often during the course of the day; and simply get them covered with copper,” advises Dr Ras. “The future of veterinary medicine is the prevention of disease and the on-going protection of healthy animals, rather than...

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Cutting edge antimicrobial copper installation in rural Limpopo

JOHANNESBURG – August 21, 2013 –In 2011, when renovations at the Maphutha Malatji hospital were nearing completion in Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, the Palabora Foundation, the social arm of Palabora Mining Company, decided to implement a far reaching community health programme which also included the construction of a new clinic at the Mashishimale village in the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality. This was done in recognition of the fact that poor health has an extensive impact on employment and education, leading to the establishment of a partnership between the foundation and the Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development (LDoH & Soc. Dev.).. The antimicrobial properties of copper and its ability to naturally kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection on touch surfaces had long been proven by the International Copper Association, so the Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) approached the LDoH & Soc. Dev. to pilot the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in the Maphutha Malatji hospital’s theatre, where they assisted with the identification of vulnerable areas and subsequently installed antimicrobial copper products. “We had heard about the benefits of copper touch surfaces and the installation of antimicrobial copper at the Maphutha Malatji hospital. Based on this pilot, we subsequently worked with the CDAA and the LDoH & Soc. Dev to extend the installation of these surfaces at our new Mashishimale village clinic,” explains Malesela Letsoalo, director of the Palabora Foundation. CDAA members Copalcor, Cobra, and Copper Tubing Africa manufactured and supplied the products, which are still in place and continuously fighting and preventing the spread of infection. The installation included touch surface items such as wash basins, light switches, waiting room and toilet seats, laundry shelves, door handles and push plates. CDAA centre director, Evert Swanepoel, says: “It is an accepted fact that hand washing campaigns aimed at healthcare workers are not enough, but the addition of antimicrobial copper helps to reduce infections by up to 80 percent. No other material, such as stainless steel, melamine or glass, even comes close to being this effective.” Cleaning protocols were put in place at both facilities, and the cleaners were trained in the correct cleaning of copper, a method that does not affect the natural ability of metal to kill germs, but does keep it bright and shiny. “Natural copper was used at both facilities but there are hundreds of different antimicrobial copper alloys available, in a wide range of colours, to suit any architect’s design. Given the success of these, and other projects, the CDAA is engaging with healthcare facilities in South Africa and the rest of Africa to promote this life saving metal and reduce the rate of infections in hospitals and clinics,” concludes Swanepoel. About the Copper Development Association Africa The Copper Development Association Africa (CDA Africa) has represented the local copper industry in southern Africa since 1962 and now promotes copper usage throughout Africa.  The CDA Africa’s head office is based in Johannesburg and, on behalf of its members, the organisation is committed to promoting and expanding the use of copper and copper alloys throughout Africa. CONTACTS: Copper Development Association Africa: Evert Swanepoel, +27 (0) 11 824 3916, evert.swanepoel@copperalliance.org.za, www.copperalliance.org.za icomm: Debbie Sielemann, +27 (0) 82 414 4633, debbie@pr.co.za,...

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Leading dental surgery showcases new solution to reduce patient complications

JOHANNESBURG – October 02, 2013 –Complications are a red flag for medical professionals, which at best can be unpleasant, but at their worst can be medically dangerous and occasionally life threatening. In a dental surgical practice, the most common complication encountered is that of wound infection.  Splashes resulting from the use of high-speed rotating instruments used for dental treatments have been identified as a potential source of cross-contamination between patients. The formation of microbial aerosols enables particles to spread onto surrounding surfaces where germs can survive for days, even months. Whilst good hand hygiene and regular surface cleaning are key to combatting infection, more can be done, and a specialised maxillofacial and oral surgery practice in Alberton is showcasing a new solution. The surgery’s pioneer, Dr Anton Scheepers, has been practicing in Alberton for the past 20 years. He previously exclusively operated in the theatre facilities of hospitals, but now does around 50 to 60 percent of his surgical procedures in his dedicated rooms. Scheepers says: “It goes without saying that any medical professional interested in patient well-being will endeavour to limit infective complications to a minimum. A good infection control protocol will include a variety of measures for avoiding or minimising the chances of cross-contamination. Examples of this include ensuring that your patient is in optimal health before performing surgery, and enforcing strict policies and measures of sterility and asepsis. The latter encompasses such measures as correct hand washing and hand asepsis protocol, the use of barriers such as gloves and protective visors, aseptic measures to reduce the number and virility of microbes, the sterilisation of all instruments and items used during surgery, and the prudent use of antibacterial and antibiotic medication.” Throughout Scheepers’ surgical practice, all the clinical melamine work surfaces were replaced with copper. The stainless-steel instrument tray surface was also replaced with a copper surface. Scheepers explains his decision: “Besides the improved aesthetic result as a side-benefit, the copper is passively adding value to the already effective infection control measures applied in place in my practice.” Evert Swanepoel, centre director of the Copper Development Association Africa, says: “I first visited Dr Scheepers in the latter half of 2012 in order to provide him with literature on antimicrobial copper because, for him, hygiene was a crucial factor in his practice. He was highly impressed with the infection fighting properties of copper, and immediately saw the potential for infection control measure in his practice.  Once the right choice had been made, the installation work began and the fantastic results are plain to see.” On the subject of whether the antimicrobial copper installation offers Dr Scheepers’ clients added value, he says: “Absolutely.  I will certainly point out these details to my patients.  Dozens of people pass through this surgery, and cross-contamination will be greatly reduced because the surfaces are made from antimicrobial copper.  My patients will see that this practice takes a proactive approach to their safety. “Although it is much too early to make any scientific deductions, I can say that the new surfaces seem to be reducing the incidence of wound infection in my practice, and would strongly recommend copper surfaces to all medical and dental professionals. The evidence is there and it is overwhelmingly in favour of copper and its medical applications. We have not...

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Competitors left in the dust by CDAA sponsored electric vehicle

JOHANNESBURG – October 02, 2013 – The Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA), attended the 2013 Kalahari Desert SpeedWeek in Hakskeenpan earlier this month, where they sponsored Team Freedom Won’s prototype electric car, Freedom1, to promote electric motor technology and premium efficiency electric motors.  Freedom1’s ‘engine’ contains a significant amount of copper, which is known for its highly efficient conductivity. Freedom1 is a converted Jeep Grand Cherokee with upgraded suspension, which easily handles the weight increase of the conversion of over 500 kilograms.  This five seater SUV has a 60kW motor, more than 200Nm of torque available at any driving speed, a 150km range between charges, and is capable of 120km per hour highway driving. The vehicle’s motor is a robust air cooled, four pole, three phase induction motor, designed for heavy duty applications. It is driven by a sophisticated computer controlled variable speed inverter drive, which is capable of efficiently providing strong acceleration torque and high speed control. The system includes regenerative braking for maximum efficiency and range. The 600V DC battery pack design is made up from a number of large format high performance lithium ion cells. The vehicle is fitted with an on-board charger that connects at home or office to a simple custom installed high power charging supply, capable of charging a fully discharged battery pack within three to four hours. For everywhere else the vehicle can also be charged in five to six hours using an ordinary 16A 230V household socket. This year the 2013 Kalahari Desert SpeedWeek coincided with the Eco SpeedWeek. This was the first zero emission SpeedWeek in Africa for which only zero emission vehicles are eligible. Special track configurations were created to simulate a Le Mans type race environment for competitors, as well as top end runs and other competitive events. Hydrogen, bio fuel, gas and electric vehicles were welcome, and even human-powered vehicles could enter. Speaking of the event, Carel Ballack, project consultant at CDAA said: “Freedom1 drew a lot of interest at the event, from the organisers, fellow competitors and race spectators; as well as on route to Hakskeenpan. The vehicle performed exceptionally well, under what were extreme environmental conditions, winning the endurance event.  The Jeep was also the fastest electric vehicle at the event, which was no mean feat given that it weighs 2.5 tonnes.” CDAA centre director, Evert Swanepoel adds: “We were delighted to sponsor Freedom1 at the event, in a bid to raise awareness of electric motor technology and premium efficiency electric motors.  We were certainly not left disappointed by the vehicle’s superior performance.” About the Copper Development Association Africa The Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) has represented the local copper industry in southern Africa since 1962 and now promotes copper usage throughout Africa.  The CDA Africa’s head office is based in Johannesburg and, on behalf of its members, the organisation is committed to promoting and expanding the use of copper and copper alloys throughout Africa. CONTACTS: Copper Development Association Africa: Evert Swanepoel, +27 (0) 11 824 3916, evert.swanepoel@copperalliance.org.za, www.copperalliance.org.za icomm: Debbie Sielemann, +27 (0) 82 414 4633, debbie@pr.co.za,...

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Students get inside info on Cu

JOHANNESBURG – May 24, 2013 – Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA), a copper alliance member, recently played host to five Wits University students studying towards a degree in Construction Management. The students were given the opportunity to tour South Africa’s largest manufacturer of copper, brass and alloy-based semi-finished products and turnkey Busbar solutions, Copalcor. Copalcor, a CDAA member, boasts a 54,000m2 head office and production facility in Wadeville, Germiston. The students also attended a presentation on “copper in Africa” at the CDAA...

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Copper, helping to power the winds of change

JOHANNESBURG – August 12, 2013 – The rapid growth of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, tidal, hydro, biomass, and geothermal, in recent years has been as a response to the increasing costs of fossil fuels as well as their negative environmental impacts. The global wind industry has grown enormously, as the fundamental drivers for wind power development still hold: there is a need around the world for new power generation, which is clean, affordable, indigenous, reliable and quick to install. In 2012, the global wind power market grew by more than ten percent compared to 2011, and the nearly 45GW of new wind power brought on line represents investments of about Euro 56 billion.  The new global total at the end of 2012 was 282.5GW, representing cumulative market growth of more than 19 percent, an excellent industry growth rate given the economic climate, even though it is lower than the annual average growth rate over the last ten years of about 22 percent. Africa is beginning to exploit its enormous wind power potential, particularly around its northern coasts and in the eastern highlands, with several countries announcing long-term plans for installing large quantities of commercial scale wind power. This includes South Africa, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Kenya, among others, explains Copper Development Association Africa’s (CDAA) centre director, Evert Swanepoel. Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity. The basic components of a wind power system consist of a tower with rotating blades containing an electricity generator and a transformer to step up voltage for electricity transmission to a substation on the grid. Copper is primarily used in coil windings in the generators, which convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, as well as in low voltage cable conductors, the coils of transformers and gearboxes. Copper may also be used in the housing of the wind turbine that rests on the tower containing all the main components, in the auxiliary motors that are used to rotate the housing as well as control the angle of the rotor blades, in the cooling circuits and in the power electronics. The largest amount of copper used in wind power is in the generator, and varies according to the type of generator, its power rating, and its configuration, with the weight of copper used having an almost linear relationship to the power rating of the generator.  After the generator, cabling is the second largest copper-containing component. A wind tower system with the transformer next to the generator will have medium-voltage (MV) power cables running from the top to the bottom of the tower, then to a collection point for a number of wind towers and on to the grid substation. The tower assembly will incorporate wire harnesses and control/signal cables, while low-voltage (LV) power cables are required to power the working parts throughout the system. Copper is also the dominant material in all underground cabling. Given their height, turbine masts attract lightning strikes, so they require lightning protection systems; and copper is vital to the electrical grounding system. When lightning strikes a turbine blade, current passes along the blade, through the blade hub in the housing and down the mast to a grounding system. The blade incorporates a large cross-section...

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