Metallic copper is a reddish coloured metal. It is quite malleable and a good conductor of heat and electricity. Copper is found in many different minerals including e.g. malachite.
Common name: Copper, Cu.
Copper is used widely in electronic and electrical applications, heat exchangers and motors. It is used in plumbing tubes, building construction, roofing and in marine engineering applications. Copper is also used in cooking vessels and other utensils. Copper compounds are used in wood preservatives, boat anti-fouling paints. Copper also serves as a nutritive additive in livestock mineral feeds.
Releases to the environment
Major man-made releases to the environment of copper are coal-fired power stations, iron and steel industries, non-ferrous metal industries and waste incinerators. Sources of copper releases to soils include the use of agricultural chemicals and the application of sewage sludge to land. Since copper naturally occurs as an element in the earth’s crust, releases to the environment also result from natural sources.
Impacts on the environment and human health
Excessive exposure to copper may cause health effects on the digestive system, eye, kidney, liver, lung and nose. Copper is toxic to aquatic life and certain soil microorganisms potentially disrupting nutrient cycling processes.
Copper and its compounds are listed in the Basel Convention controlling the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes. Furthermore copper is on the EU-Commissions EPER list and listed in the PRTR Protocol under the Århus Convention.
CAS NO: 7440-50-8