Surgical Masks for the Corona Virus


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In light of the recent events regarding the Corona Virus Pandemic, there has been much discussion and controversy regarding the lack of PPE ( personal protective equipment ) for healthcare providers, EMT workers, Law Enforcement and others that work in direct contact with the public.

Aside from keeping safe and following guidelines from medical experts, we can all do our part to get help to people and regions that have been affected. 

I decided to invent something that would be more protective and cost effective than the throw away masks that so many of us have been using.

I have a U.S. patent ( 63006237 ) on a Copper Surgical Mask I invented that by virtue of the copper metal has the potential to protect against spreading a wide range of microorganisms including E.Coli, MRSA, Influenza and Viruses when making contact with the copper.  ( The mask does NOT treat or cure any virus or disease ). 

The mask is washable, reusable, breathable, adjustable and bendable to fit any sized face over the nose and mouth for a comfortable fit and saves money because there is no need to throw it away.  It can be easily cleaned and sterilized with alcohol and reused it minutes.

It can be worn alone or over an N-95 mask for added protection if the user desires. 

I need funds to mass produce the masks quickly for Healthcare Providers, Fire Fighters, EMTs and Law Enforcement Officers as well as anyone who works with the public on a day to day basis and needs an added measure of protection.

Copper Research

"Studies have shown that copper is able to destroy the microbes that most threaten our lives. It has been shown to kill a long list of microbes, including norovirus, MRSA, a staph bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics, virulent strains of E. coli that cause food-borne illness, and corona viruses—possibly including the novel strain currently causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus endures for days on plastic or metal but disintegrates soon after landing on copper surfaces. Here’s why

Keevil, a microbiology researcher at the University of Southampton (U.K.), has studied the antimicrobial effects of copper for more than two decades. He has watched in his laboratory as the simple metal slew one bad bug after another. 

He began with the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's Disease and then turned to drug-resistant killer infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). He tested viruses that caused worldwide health scares such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Swine Flu (H1N1) pandemic of 2009. In each case, copper contact killed the pathogen within minutes. "It just blew it apart," he says.

In 2015, Keevil turned his attention to Coronavirus 229E, a relative of the COVID-19 virus that causes the common cold and pneumonia. Once again, copper zapped the virus within minutes while it remained infectious for five days on surfaces such as stainless steel or glass.

“One of the ironies is, people [install] stainless steel because it seems clean and in a way, it is,” he says, noting the material’s ubiquity in public places. “But then the argument is how often do you clean? We don’t clean often enough.” Copper, by contrast, disinfects merely by being there.

Ancient Knowledge

Keevil’s work is a modern confirmation of an ancient remedy. For thousands of years, long before they knew about germs or viruses, people have known of copper’s disinfectant powers. "Copper is truly a gift from Mother Nature in that the human race has been using it for over eight millennia," says Michael G. Schmidt, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina who researches copper in healthcare settings.

The first recorded use of copper as an infection-killing agent comes from Smith's Papyrus, the oldest-known medical document in history. The information therein has been ascribed to an Egyptian doctor circa 1700 B.C. but is based on information that dates back as far as 3200 B.C. Egyptians designated the ankh symbol, representing eternal life, to denote copper in hieroglyphs.

As far back as 1,600 B.C., the Chinese used copper coins as medication to treat heart and stomach pain as well as bladder diseases. The sea-faring Phoenicians inserted shavings from their bronze swords into battle wounds to prevent infection. For thousands of years, women have known that their children didn't get diarrhea as frequently when they drank from copper vessels and passed on this knowledge to subsequent generations. "You don't need a medical degree to diagnose diarrhea," Schmidt says.

And copper’s power lasts. Keevil’s team checked the old railings at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal a few years ago. "The copper is still working just like it did the day it was put in over 100 years ago," he says. "This stuff is durable and the anti-microbial effect doesn't go away."

What the ancients knew, modern scientists and organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency have confirmed. The EPA has registered about 400 copper surfaces as antimicrobial. But how exactly does it work?

Heavy metals including gold and silver are antibacterial, but copper’s specific atomic makeup gives it extra killing power, Keevil says. Copper has a free electron in its outer orbital shell of electrons that easily takes part in oxidation-reduction reactions (which also makes the metal a good conductor). As a result, Schmidt says, it becomes a “molecular oxygen grenade.” Silver and gold don’t have the free electron, so they are less reactive.

Copper kills in other ways as well, according to Keevil, who has published papers on the effect. When a microbe lands on copper, ions blast the pathogen like an onslaught of missiles, preventing cell respiration and punching holes in the cell membrane or viral coating and creating free radicals that accelerate the kill, especially on dry surfaces. 

Most importantly, the ions seek and destroy the DNA and RNA inside a bacteria or virus, preventing the mutations that create drug-resistant superbugs. “The properties never wear off, even if it tarnishes,” Schmidt says.

Schmidt has focused his research on the question of whether using copper alloys in often-touched surfaces reduces hospital infections. On any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control, costing as much as $50,000 per patient. 

Schmidt’s landmark study, funded by the Department of Defense, looked at copper alloys on surfaces including bedside rails, tray tables, intravenous poles, and chair armrests at three hospitals around the country. That 43-month investigation revealed a 58 percent infection reduction compared to routine infection protocols.

Further research stalled when the DOD focused on the Zika epidemic, so Schmidt turned his attention to working with a manufacturer that created a copper hospital bed. A two-year study published earlier this year compared beds in an intensive care unit with plastic surfaces and those with copper. Bed rails on the plastic surfaces exceeded the accepted risk standards in nearly 90 percent of the samples, while the rails on the copper bed exceeded those standards on only 9 percent. "We again demonstrated in spades that copper can keep the built environment clean from microorganisms," he says.

Schmidt is also a co-author of an 18-month study led by Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, an environmental microbiologist at Grinnell College, that compared the bacterial abundance in occupied and unoccupied rooms at Grinnell Regional Medical Center's 49-bed rural hospital. Again, copper reduced bacterial numbers. "If you're using a copper alloy that's always working," Hinsa-Leasure says, “you still need to clean the environment, but you have something in place that's working all the time (to disinfect) as well."

Harnessing Copper

Keevil and Schmidt have found that installing copper on just 10 percent of surfaces would prevent infections and save $1,176 a day (comparing the reduced cost of treating infections to the cost of installing copper). Yet hospitals have been slow to respond. "I've been surprised how slow it has been to be taken up by hospitals," Hinsa-Leasure adds. "A lot of it has to do with our healthcare system and funding to hospitals, which is very tight. When our hospital redid our emergency room, we installed copper alloys in key places. So it makes a lot of sense when you're doing a renovation or building something that's new. It's more expensive if you're just changing something that you already have."

The Sentara Hospital system in North Carolina and Virginia made copper-impregnated surfaces the standard across 13 hospitals in 2017 for overbed tables and bed rails after a 2016 clinical trial at a Virginia Beach hospital reported a 78 percent reduction in drug-resistant organisms. Using technology pioneered in Israel, the hospital has also moved to copper-infused bedding. Keevil says France and Poland are beginning to put copper alloys in hospitals. In Peru and Chile, which produce copper, it's being used in hospitals and the public transit systems. "So it's going around the world, but it still hasn't taken off," he says.

In 1852, physician Victor Burq visited a copper smelter in Paris's 3rd arrondissement, where they used heat and chemicals to extract the reddish-brown metal. It was a dirty and dangerous job. Burq found the facility to be "in poor condition," along with the housing and the hygiene of the smelters. Normally, their mortality rates were "pitiful," he observed.

Yet, the 200 employees who worked there had all been spared from cholera outbreaks that hit the city in 1832, 1849, and 1852. When Burq learned that 400 to 500 copper workers on the same street had also mysteriously dodged cholera, he concluded that something about their professions—and copper—had made them immune to the highly infectious disease. He launched a detailed investigation into other people who worked with copper, in Paris and cities around the world.

In the 1854 to 1855 cholera epidemic, Burq could not find any deaths of jewellers, goldsmiths, or boilermakers—all those who worked with copper. In people in the army, he found that musicians who played brass instruments (brass is partly copper) were also protected.

In the 1865 Paris epidemic, 6,176 people died of cholera, out of a population of 1,677,000 people—that’s 3.7 people out of every 1,000. But of the 30,000 who worked in different copper industries, only 45 died—an average of around 0.5 per 1,000.

After visiting 400 different businesses and factories in Paris, all of which used copper, and collecting reports from England, Sweden, and Russia on more than 200,000 people, he concluded to the French Academies of Science and Medicine in 1867 that “copper or its alloys, brass and bronze, applied literally and pregnantly to the skin in the cholera epidemic are effective means of prevention which should not be neglected.”

Today, we have insight into why a person handling copper day in and day out would have protection from a bacterial threat: Copper is antimicrobial. It kills bacteria and viruses, sometimes within minutes. In the 19th century, exposure to copper would have been an early version of constantly sanitizing one's hands.

If copper were more frequently used in hospitals, where 1 in 31 people get healthcare-acquired infections (HAI), or in high-traffic areas, where many people touch surfaces teeming with microbial life—it could play an invaluable role in public health, said Michael Schmidt, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, who studies copper. And yet, it is woefully absent from our public spaces, healthcare settings, and homes.

“What happened is our own arrogance and our love of plastic and other materials took over,” Schmidt said of the cheaper products more frequently used. “We moved away from copper beds, copper railings, and copper door knobs to stainless steel, plastic, and aluminum.”

Many of the microbes that make us sick can live on hard surfaces for up to four or five days. When we touch those surfaces, the microbes can make it into our bodies through our nose, mouth, or eyes, and infect us.

On copper surfaces, bacteria and viruses die. When a microbe lands on a copper surface, the copper releases ions, which are electrically charged particles. Those copper ions blast through the outer membranes and destroy the whole cell, including the DNA or RNA inside. Because their DNA and RNA are destroyed, it also means a bacteria or virus can’t mutate and become resistant to the copper, or pass on genes (like for antibiotic resistance) to other microbes.

Before people even knew what bacteria and viruses were, they knew that copper could—somehow—ward off infection. The first recorded medical use of copper is from one of the oldest-known books, the Smith Papyrus, written between 2600 and 2200 B.C. It said that copper was used to sterilize chest wounds and drinking water. Egyptian and Babylonian soldiers would similarly put the shavings from their bronze swords (made from copper and tin) into their open wounds to reduce infections. A more contemporary use of copper: In New York City’s Grand Central Station, the grand staircase is flanked by copper handrails. “Those are actually anti-microbial,” Schmidt said.

The copper smelters were, ostensibly, exposed to less of the cholera bacterium because their surroundings included a lot of copper that bacteria couldn't live on. That and they potentially were covered in copper particles. If metallurgy doesn't call to you, there are now some products that are advertised as "copper hand sanitizers," but they work only if you can expose every surface of your hands to the copper for at least a full minute—essentially transferring any microbes to the copper surface to be killed. It could be difficult to get to every part of your skin's surface, so having copper surfaces in your environment paired with handwashing would be the ideal combination.

Schmidt said that using copper along with standard hygiene protocols has been shown to reduce bacteria in health care settings by 90 percent. A study from 1983 found that hospital door knobs made of brass, which is part copper, barely had any E. coli growth on them, compared to stainless steel knobs which were “heavily colonized.” This is significant because of how rampant healthcare-acquired infections are: In the U.S. alone, there are about 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths linked to HAIs per year, which cost between $35.7 and $45 billion annually, from the extra treatments people need when they get infected.

Microbes that live on surfaces in patient rooms and common spaces in hospitals play a role in getting a HAI—and this is where copper could help. And during this pandemic, when there is serious concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus via contaminated surfaces, a virus-killing substance seems worthwhile indeed.

A study from 2015 found that a different coronavirus, human coronavirus 229E, which causes respiratory tract infections, could still infect a human lung cell after five days of being on materials like teflon, ceramic, glass, silicone rubber, and stainless steel. But on copper alloys, the coronavirus was “rapidly inactivated.”

In a new preprint on SARS-CoV2, the strain that causes COVID-19, researchers at the National Institutes of Health virology laboratory in Montana sprayed the virus onto seven different common materials, reported MIT Technology Review. They found that it survived the longest—up to three days—on plastic and stainless steel, suggesting that surfaces in hospitals or steel poles on public transit could be places where people pick up the illness. Just a single droplet from a cough or sneeze can carry an infectious dose of a virus.

Bill Keevil, a professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton in England who has previously received funding from the Copper Development Association, said that if copper surfaces were put in communal areas where many people gather, it could help reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, like coronavirus 229E and also SARS-CoV2. Other than hospitals, he thinks the ideal locations for copper are public transportation systems, like buses, airports, subways. But he doesn't stop there: He would also like to see copper used in sports equipment in gyms, like weights, along with other everyday objects, including shared office supplies, like pens.

In the preprint, SARS-CoV2 "liked copper least," Antonio Regalado wrote in MIT Technology Review. "The virus was gone after just four hours."

In 2012, Schmidt and his colleagues ran a clinical trial in three hospitals, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, and Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center, also in Charleston.

First, they figured out which items closest to a patient were the most contaminated with microbes—those were the bed rails, the nurse call button, the arm of the visitor chair, the tray tables, and the IV pole. Enveloping these items in copper reduced the presence of microbes by 83 percent. As a result, HAIs were reduced by 58 percent, even though the researchers had introduced copper to less than 10 percent of the surface area of the room.

We have other methods of killing bacteria and viruses to mitigate HAIs, including ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide gas. But both require a hospital room to be empty, and once sick people re-enter rooms, surfaces can easily be contaminated again. “Copper is continuously working 24/7 without supervision, without any need to intervene, and it never runs out,” Schmidt said. “As long as the metal's there, it's good to go."

So given how well it could work, for hospital infections and for health more generally, why isn’t copper everywhere? Why isn’t every door knob, every subway rail, every ICU room, made of copper? Why can we easily buy stainless steel water bottles, but not copper? Where are the copper iPhone cases?

It doesn't seem like we'll run out of copper in the near future, according to the World Copper Factbook from 2019. Copper is one of the most recycled of all metals—nearly all copper can be recycled and not lose any of its properties.

Doctors and healthcare workers might not be aware of its properties, as Keevil wrote in The Conversation: “When doctors are asked to name an antimicrobial metal used in healthcare, the most common reply is silver—but little do they know that silver does not work as an antimicrobial surface when dry—moisture needs to be present."

There might also be a perception that copper is too expensive, Schmidt said, despite the fact that the numbers indicate it would ultimately save money. One of Keevil and Schmidt's studies from 2015 did the math: The cost of treating an HAI ranges from $28,400 to $33,800 per patient. Installing copper on 10 percent of surfaces cost $52,000 and prevented 14 infections over the course of the 338-day study. If you take the lower end of the HAI treatment cost ($28,400), then those 14 prevented infections saved a total of $397,600, or $1,176 a day.

Even when factoring in how much the copper cost initially, you'd make that money back in savings within two months, Schmidt said. And considering that the copper never loses its microbial killing abilities—hospitals would quickly be saving money (and lives).

"Your payback is literally in less than two [prevented] infections,” he said. “I really struggle with this. Since 2013, I have been literally begging, groveling, pleading, with any and all concerned to make a completely copper encapsulated [hospital] bed."

He recently did convince a company to invest, and said they’re in the process of testing it to show that it could reduce infections even further than 58 percent.

Another reason copper may have been passed over for steel, plastic, or glass is that it can easily tarnish and requires a lot of cleaning to remain shiny. “But copper is antimicrobial regardless of how grody it looks, if it turns green on you, it still has the ability to kill bacteria and viruses and fungi,” he said.

Some places around the world have started to use copper. In Chile, a theme park called Fantasilandia, replaced a lot of its commonly touched surfaces with copper. At the Atlanta airport, 50 water bottle filling stations are now made with copper. But Schmidt believes it should be more widespread.

He said that one of the reasons scientists are worried about the current coronavirus is how infectious it is, and a major way people might be getting it is from touching contaminated surfaces. He thinks it's possible that the pandemic could raise awareness for copper—if it motivates anyone to start using it. Imagine, he said, if our hospitals and public spaces already had copper in place—it’s impossible to say for sure, but it’s likely that transmission would have been affected."

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/copper-virus-kill-180974655

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xgqkyw/copper-destroys-viruses-and-bacteria-why-isnt-it-everywhere


I would like to be in the position to donate my Copper Surgical Masks to all who are in desperate need of the equipment, especially healthcare workers who are on the front lines at high risk taking care of people.

The masks cost me approximately $29.21 for materials, time and labor per unit including first class shipping to people in need. 

I can produce over 34,000 masks if I can fulfill the goal.  I will need the funds to employ a manufacturer to mass produce the masks quickly.

I will send a complimentary mask to all who donate as long as I can cover my costs and you provide an address for me to send it to you.

Can you donate to my cause to reduce the exposure of public workers to infectious viruses ?  

The Copper Surgical Mask will prove to be a valuable personal protective equipment to help prevent the spread of diseases now and in the future and will help in saving on healthcare costs.

I will periodically post updates on all the organizations that I have donated masks to so you can see that your funds are used wisely to make a significant impact.

Thank you for any support you provide.

Call me with any ideas you may have for this campaign: 954-636-9013


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Organizer

Ralph Coleman 
Organizer
Lake Worth, FL
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