Particulate copper, dissolved copper as Cu2+
Though copper is an essential nutrient, at high doses it has been shown to cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver and kidney damage, and anemia. People with Wilson's disease may be at a higher risk of health effects due to copper than the general public.[i]
In marine waters, acute effects from copper occur to aquatic species at 4.8 μg/L.[ii] Salmon are especially sensitive to copper, with adverse effects of occurring at freshwater concentrations between 0.18 to 2.1 μg/L.[iii] Adverse effects of copper include disruptions to salmonid smoltification processes, interference with fish sensory systems, and behaviors related to predator avoidance, juvenile growth, and migratory success. [iv]
Freshwater – Aquatic Organisms (Dissolved Concentration*)
Saltwater– Aquatic Organisms (Dissolved Concentration*)
Human Health for the consumption of
Varies depending on in-stream characteristics, including temperature, pH and alkalinity.
Water + Organism (µg/L)
Organism Only (µg/L)
*Based on hardness value of 100mg/L. Criteria vary with the hardness of the receiving water body.[v]
Copper is orange metal found in relative-abundance within the earth’s crust[vi]. Pure copper is highly malleable, a good conductor of heat, and has a moderately high melting point. When exposed to the elements, it reacts with oxygen to form a light shade of green. Bronze and brass are also made from copper alloyed with tin and zinc, respectively.[vii]
Copper and its alloys have been used by many different civilizations as far back as 9000 BC.[viii] Numerous copper artifacts have been identified across the globe. Modern uses of copper include electrical wiring, plumbing materials, roofing, cookware, automobile brake pads, and agricultural products.
In 2007, the United States was the third largest producer of copper in the world behind Chile and Peru[ix]. Thirteen mines within Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico account for 99% of domestic production. Open pit mines are used to extract copper in the form of mineral ore which is then refined through a variety of process. [x]
Copper is introduced into the environment through both natural and anthropogenic activities. Anthropogenic sources of copper in the environment are copper mining activities, metal and electrical manufacturing, agricultural and domestic use of pesticides and fungicides, leather processing, and automotive brake pads. Natural sources of copper pollution are volcanic eruptions, windblown dust, and forest fires.[xi]
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Seaview BoatyardSeaview Boatyard operates four full service boatyards in Washington State's Puget Sound area, offering boat repair and maintenance services for recreational boaters, commercial fisherman and the yachting community. After installing StormwateRx Aquip systems at their facilities to remove known boatyard pollutants such as copper, zinc, and total suspended solids (TSS), Seaview Boatyard was able to reduce pollutants in their stormwater by up to 99%, thus, keeping to their belief in safeguarding the environment for future generations' use.
[i] U.S. EPA, National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, Technical Factsheet on: COPPER, 1 http://www.epa.gov/safewater/pdfs/factsheets/ioc/tech/copper.pdf
[ii] Steven Landino, NOAA to Gary Bailey, Washington Dept. of Ecology, 2-3 (May 28, 2010) available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/permits/boatyard/permitdocuments/comments0610.pdf.
[iii] S.A. Hecht, et. al., NOAA, An overview of sensory effects on juvenile salmonids exposed to dissolved copper: Applying a benchmark concentration approach to evaluate sublethal neuro behavioral toxicity, NOAA Tech. Memo, NMFS-NWFSC-83 (2007) available at http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/assets/25/6696_11162007_114444_SensoryEffectsTM83Final.pdf.
[iv] Steven Landino, NOAA to Gary Bailey, Washington Dept. of Ecology, 2-3 (May 28, 2010) available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/permits/boatyard/permitdocuments/comments0610.pdf.
[v] U.S. EPA, National Recommended Water Quality Criteria, http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/wqctable/index.html#U (last visited July 7, 2010).
[vi] U.S. EPA., Water quality criteria: copper aquatic life criteria (2009) http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/copper/faq/background.html.
[vii] HyperPhysics, Copper (2009) http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/pertab/cu.html.
[viii] Marianne Stanczak , A brief history of copper (2005) http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/copper/overview.php.
[ix] U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral commodity summaries: copper (2008) http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/copper/mcs-2008-coppe.pdf.
[x] MBendi Information Services, Copper mining in the United States – overview (2010) http://www.mbendi.com/indy/ming/cppr/am/us/p0005.htm.
[xi] U.S. EPA., Water quality criteria: copper aquatic life criteria (2009) http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/copper/faq/background.html.
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