Copper disinfection ban causes storm

Health Estate. 2013 May;67(5):43-6.


Since 1 February this year, under the EU's Biocidal Products Directive, it has been illegal to sell or use water treatment systems that use elemental copper, a practice employed historically by a significant number of UK healthcare facilities to combat Legionella. Alan Lester, managing director of specialist supplier of 'environmentally-friendly' water treatment systems, Advanced Hydro, says the ban has caused 'a storm of giant proportion,' with advocates of copper ion-based treatment systems arguing that this disinfection method dates back 3,000 years to Egyptian times, making it an 'undoubtedly proven' technology. Here he explains why the ban came into force, considers why the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is seeking a derogation, looks at the ban's likely impact, and gives a personal viewpoint on the 'pros and cons' of some of the alternative treatment technologies, including a titanium dioxide-based system marketed by Advanced Hydro itself in the UK.

MeSH terms

  • Copper* / chemistry
  • Disinfection*
  • European Union
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Sanitary Engineering / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Silver / chemistry
  • United Kingdom
  • Water Microbiology


  • Silver
  • Copper