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Copper coins and moldy bread

September 10th, 2013 / By: / My Take

The use of what we now call antimicrobials has been around for centuries, although our understanding and ability to make use of the technology is dramatically more sophisticated than the ancient Greek’s (and other cultures’) method of applying moldy bread to a wound. The gods, rather than disease-killing chemicals, were likely credited with this treatment’s efficacy. But it was a start.

The Greeks (and Romans and Egyptians) used silver vessels to keep water fresh. Centuries later, the pioneers traversing the Old West, dropped silver and copper coins in their wooden water casks, and silver dollars in their milk, to prevent spoilage.

We’re still using silver- and copper-based materials for antimicrobial protection. In fact, the antimicrobial textile market is growing with continuing improvements in the technology and more applications. This issue’s featured material takes a look at this market. Bill Smith’s article offers some solid, basic information, and Dr. Robert Monticello explains polymer technology in “The Polymer Approach.” A search of “antimicrobials” on this site (and in  Specialty Fabrics Review) will turn up many articles on new research, technologies and products. It’s a good way to get a feel for the larger industry in this market area.

We had an interesting comment on one of our featured articles from the August issue. Our reader said that some of it was a little over his head, but he understood enough to want to look into the technology, and I’d say that’s somewhat representative of what we are working to accomplish with this new publication. Even if you’ve never thought of using antimicrobials in the products you make, I think you’ll find the information interesting, at the least, and perhaps it will spark a new idea for you, too. In any case, we invite you to join the discussion.