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Copper Poisoning

25th Oct 2013

Copper Toxicity

If you drink water that contains higher than normal levels of copper, you may experience vomiting, diarrohoea, stomach cramps, and nausea.

Copper Toxicity is a condition that is increasingly common in this day and age, due to the widespread occurrence of copper in our food, our hot water pipes, along with the common nutritional deficiencies in Zinc, Manganese and other trace minerals that keep levels of Copper from getting too high.

High intakes of copper can cause liver and kidney damage and even death.
Very young children are sensitive to copper, and long-term exposure to high levels of copper water may cause liver damage and death … We do not know if copper can cause birth defects in children. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Public Health Statement 1990

Most of Australia's drinking water is by nature soft, acidic and corrosive. Chlorine is also acidic and corrosive. When you add the two together you get a powerfully corrosive mixture that is not easy to manipulate or control. One consequence of this is the increasing occurrence of so-called "blue" water, telltale symptoms of the poisonous corrosion of copper water pipes. Corrosion of domestic copper plumbing is now a serious heath problem.

Copper corrosion is widespread throughout eastern Australia. A 1999 Queensland Department Report indicated that thousands of children at country schools were drinking water contaminated with lead, copper, and other metals from school drinking fountains. These residues, caused by the action of acid water on copper and brass, can have significant long-term health effects on children including impaired intellectual development.

What steps can you take if you suspect that your copper plumbing is corroding ?

Corrosion is more likely if your house or apartment is more than five years old, the water is soft, and it sits in the pipes undisturbed for several hours. Also, if bath water has a slightly blue colour then this may be an indication of copper residue.

Researchers have found that first flush tap water - the water that comes out as soon as you turn on the tap can be a major source of lead and copper contamination. It takes about 10 litres of water to flow through your tap to assure its safety. This should be done every time the system remains unused for four hours or more.

The only way to be sure about the levels of lead and copper in your household water is to have the water tested by a competent laboratory. Testing is especially important in high-rise buildings, because flushing may not be effective. Unlike household supplies, the volume of water necessary to flush all of the polluted water from the pipelines of a building fifteen or twenty storeys high, makes flushing impractical.

Removal of Copper from your drinking water.

The most effective and guaranteed means is to instal a reverse osmosis unit for all your drinking water.