Purpose – Colonies of Actynomyces israelii bacteria have been found in removed copper intra‐uterine devices (IUD) used as a long‐term contraceptive method. The purpose of this paper is to characterize the biofilm developed under anaerobic conditions by Actynomyces israelii on IUD surface, and its influence in the copper corrosion processes. Design/methodology/approach – The dissolution of copper on the intra‐uterine cavity prevents conception because of the toxic effect of the ions released. Nevertheless, microbiological growths have been detected on the IUD devices retired after long periods of insertion. In order to know about the influence of the biofilm on the corrosion of copper, electrochemical, spectroscopic and surface analysis techniques were applied to study the phenomenon. Findings – A porous Actynomyces israelii biofilm was formed on the copper IUD surface. The bacteria colony had developed in an exopolimeric substrate, which protects it from the toxic effect of copper ions. The corrosion process was not inhibited by the biofilm, due to the pores present which permit the transport of species through them. Practical implications – The results of this study show that there is no decay in the contraceptive function of the IUDs due to the presence of a bacterial biofilm on its surface. Originality/value – The relationship between microbial colonization and the corrosion process of copper IUD under anaerobic conditions was characterized. These results will complement previous investigations performed on the study of corrosion of copper IUDs under different conditions.
Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 21, 2008
Keywords: Copper; Biology; Film; Sexual health
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