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copper compounds

updated tue 8 dec 98


Edouard Bastarache on mon 7 dec 98

Hello all,

here is what i send recently to a fellow clayarter
who asked for info. on copper.

Copper is an essential metal and the daily requirement has been estimated
at 30 micrograms/kg of body weight for an adult.
The normal concentration of copper in blood plasma is 1 mg/liter.
The gastrointestinal absorption of soluble copper is regulated by the need
and is usually around 50%;
uptake may also take place after inhalation.
Elimination of copper is slow and takes place via bile.
Wilson's disease is caused by an inborn error of the copper metabolism
characterized by a diminished capacity to eliminate copper via bile.This
leads to copper accumulation and secondary lesions in the liver and the

Copper sulfate has clinically(medicine) been used as an emetic and it is
well established that soluble copper salts at high concentrations cause
gastrointestinal irritation with vomiting, epigastric burns,and
sometimes diarrhea.
High copper content in drinking water and food may contribute to the
development of severe liver damage in infants.
Inhalation of copper dust and fume results in irritation of the respiratory
tract, ulceration and perforation of nasal septum, metallic or sweet taste,
and in some instances, discoloration of the skin and hair.
Vineyard sprayers using a solution containing aqeuous copper sulfate
developed granulomatous and fibrotic lung lesions.
Liver granulomatas containing copper have also been found in vineyard
Experimental studies in mice support that copper is an etiologic(cause) for
Copper fumes may also cause an influenza-like(benign) illness called "metal
fume fever".

Reference:Occupational Medicine,Carl Zenz & al.

Copper exposure can result in granulomatous liver disease with hepatic
granulomas near or within the portal tracts.
Clinical liver disease is usually not significant, but granulomas
occasionally result in hepatomegaly,necrosis and fibrosis.
Copper sulfate is used in the whitewashing and leather industry.Toxicity is
primarily due to accidental and suicidal attempts, and results in
intravascular hemolysis, methemogloninemia,renal failure and often death.

Reference: Occupational & Environmental Medicine,Joseph Ladoue & al.

Copper is a metal used as an alloy in brass and bronze, as a component in
some solders, in pigments such as emerald green, and as a salt in the
lithographic process.The salts are irritants to the skin, eyes,and mucous
membranes.The inhalation of metal fumes produced at high temperature, such
as welding, may cause metal fume fever, nasal ulcers, and respiratory
irritation.Ingestion of copper salts may cause vomiting, diarrhea,
hemorragic diarrhea, and excessive salivation.The chronic accumulation of
copper in the body is rare and occurs in the progressive and sometimes
fatal autosomal recessive condition called Wilson's
disease(hepatolenticular degeneration)

Reference:Hazardous Materials Used in Arts and Crafts,chapter 60 of
Hazardous Materials Toxicology,
Sullivan & Krieger


Edouard Bastarache M.D. (Occupational & Environmental Medicine)
in "La Belle Province"