Copper has been found to cause several unpleasant side effects in human beings, so the Environmental Protection Agency developed guidelines on how much copper can be present in the water. Government officials test the public water supply occasionally for this reason to make sure that it is at acceptable levels, but if you do not get your water from the public reservoirs, your water is not being tested. In this case, it may be time that you tested the water in your private well, and those of you who get your water from the tap may want to do the same as well.
What Is Copper?
Copper is a metal that exists naturally within the water, soil, plants and animals.
How Does Copper Get in Water?
There is copper in water because of several different industrial processes, including mining, farming and work that is done in factories. Municipal and industrial entities release water into the rivers and lakes, and the water contains this element. Pipes also have a tendency to corrode, and this releases copper into the water.
How to Test for Copper in Water
If you get your water from a private well, you can test for substances in water. There are laboratories that will do this for you. Just contact your state certification officer, and you will receive a list of laboratories in your general area that can test for copper in water. You will be charged a fee for this service.
Not everyone gets their water from a well. Your water may come from the tap and the public water source, so you have the option of testing your water on your own. You will need to purchase a water testing kit to do this, but it is very simple to perform.
After you have your kit, you will need to pour eight ounces of water into a glass. All you will need to do next is place the test strip into the water, and wave it back and forth for 15 seconds. After the time is up, remove the excess water, and set it aside for 30 minutes. Then, you will compare the color of the test strip to the color chart that comes with your test kit.
What Are Normal Copper Levels in Drinking Water?
Scientific testing has revealed that humans experience vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain when they ingest copper between 4.0 and 6.0 milligrams per liter. The World Health Organization has set the maximum level of copper in water to 2.0 milligrams per liter.
Health Issues with Copper in Water
Although copper poisoning is rare, it still can occur. Those who receive their water from a well are particularly vulnerable to copper poisoning. It also tends to be prevalent when water is being delivered through copper pipes that have just recently been installed. Human beings who are exposed to excess amounts are, most likely, receiving it from the water supply and not from their food.
As this substance builds up within the liver, the organ functions less effectively than it had in the past. This means that it cannot detoxify your blood as it was meant to be done. Copper buildup can also cause inflammation of the lungs that leads to permanent scarring, and this causes your lungs to lose some of their ability to function.
This type of poisoning causes many symptoms, including anemia, convulsions and muscle weakness. It also causes you to experience a burning sensation, chills and fever. Other symptoms include liver failure, pain and shock. While there is too much copper in your system, you lose the ability to urinate, and you may have a metallic taste in your mouth. Some people even notice that their skin and eyes have turned yellow.
Elevated copper levels are particularly dangerous to the health of children. Some of the conditions related to elevated copper levels are not really that serious, such as dandruff and skin rashes, but they can also suffer from ear infections, ADD, ADHD and sleep issues as a result of high copper levels. There may even be a link between excess copper and cancer.
If you are expecting a baby, your internal copper level is very important to your developing fetus. Copper can pass through the placenta and reach the developing baby, so it is possible for your baby to be born with elevated levels of copper. You may want to have your water tested for copper before you become pregnant. Then, you can take steps to decrease your ingestion of copper.
Whether you are expecting a baby or not, to ensure you do not have excess amounts, it is worthwhile to consider testing copper levels in water. If you discover that there is a problem, you will be very glad you did.