+
Indoor
Outdoor
+
Outdoor
Indoor
This is a newly redesigned Water-Research.net page
Page Archive

Get Informed | What is Copper?

Copper is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment. Pure copper has a reddish-orange color, i.e., like the older pennies, and is soft and malleable, i.e., easily molded and a great conductor of electricity. Historically copper has been used in our homes as electrical wiring and household piping. Copper may be combined with other metals like zinc to make brass and tin to make bronze piping and fixtures. Copper is used to control algal growth in lakes and reservoirs; it can also kill your tropical fish. Copper does rust; it forms a beautiful, soft green stain (verdigris or the mineral, malachite) that can be seen on older copper roofs, the Statue of Liberty, and your leaking copper water pipes. Copper is a micronutrient that is needed for good human health.

Note: Bronze (a copper-tin alloy) piping may also include: arsenic, phosphorus, aluminum, manganese, and silicon. Brass, a copper-zinc alloy, may also contain similar contaminants.

How Does Copper Become a problem?

Copper is one of those elements that is necessary in small amounts (it is a micronutrient) but which can be a problem at levels which are too high. Low levels of copper may be associated with iron deficiency, however, elevated levels, i.e., > 2 mg/L to 5 mg/L, of copper may create aesthetic problems with drinking water. The aesthetic problems can include blue-green staining of fixtures, porcelain, and laundry, taste issues, and discolored or blue-green colored water. Elevated levels of copper have been associated with chemical and microbiological induced corrosion (MIC) in water distribution systems and household piping, and premature failure of water system components. Elevated levels of copper may be associated with elevated levels of lead, zinc, chromium, and other trace elements in the household or distribution systems piping and plated fixtures. In addition to the piping within the system and your home, copper can be introduced to a drinking water source through the treatment process for city water users and as a contaminant associated with mining, farming, manufacturing operations, storm-water runoff, and municipal or industrial wastewater discharges.

What are the Health Risks for Copper?

Long-term exposure has been associated with liver and kidney damage and short-term exposure is associated with gastrointestinal issues.

What are the Standards for Copper?

The drinking water EPA Action Level is 1.3 mg/L, but the Federal Food and Drug Administration Primary Standard for Bottled Water is 1.0 mg/L. It is regulated as a Secondary Drinking Water Standard, because of aesthetic issues. At a Secondary Standard level of 1.0 mg/L, Copper can have a bitter to metallic taste and cause blue-green staining of piping, sinks, porcelain, basins, and of the water itself. Elevated levels of copper in the water could mean there is a problem with the corrosiveness of your drinking water and suggest that other metals like lead, chromium, and zinc may be present.

Get Tested | Copper

Unlike many contaminants in drinking water, this element is potentially detectable before it creates a potential health hazard, but you must know the warning signs of a problem. If the water has a metallic or bitter taste, you see blue-green or green coatings on your fixtures, or a light blue-green color to the water in the tub, this is the early signs of a problem with the water. If you have pin-hole leaks or major leaks in piping, failures of fixtures, lots of green staining of surfaces and fixtures, you may have a health related problem.

Your best course of action is to get your water tested and compile as much information as possible about your water supply source, well construction, surrounding land-use, and local geology. If you do have a copper problem, there are water treatment technologies available now that can reduce or even remove copper from your drinking water or prevent the copper from even entering the water. With respect to water testing, you should do a first flush test of the water for copper, lead, zinc, and microbiological contaminants, and then a flushed test and check the water for microbiological contaminants and a comprehensive water quality test that includes trace metals, general water quality, and an assessment of the corrosion potential of your drinking water.

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Level 1 Testing is done with simple observations that an individual can make with their own senses such as sight, smell, and taste. These observations can be readily apparent or can be observed as they change over time. In addition, accessible related information about the home can also be used to narrow down the cause of your water issues.

Observations for Copper

The symptoms/sources for copper in the water include:

  • Your drinking water has a metallic or bitter taste and/or you see evidence of corrosion, such as: blue-green water, blue-green staining, greenish scale on fixtures, or pin-hole leaks in copper piping.
  • Your drinking water comes from a surface reservoir that is treated with copper sulfate.
  • You are located near a mining operation that produces copper ore, an industrial activity that smelts copper or produces copper wiring/piping, a waste incineration system, or a landfill.
  • Your tropical fish keep dying every time you put water in their tank. Note: Chlorinated water will also kill them which is why you let the chlorinated water stand for a day in the open to let the chlorine come out before adding the water to the tank.


Level 1 | Self-Test Web App
To do a quick and easy self diagnosis of your water, click the button below.
Launch

Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself Testing

Level 2 Testing is Do-It-Yourself testing that can be done in your own home using a Testing Kit. After you’ve done Level 1 Testing, Level 2 Testing can confirm if your observations are correct. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment (see below) or continue to Level 3 Testing.

Notes on Level 2 Testing for Copper

If your water shows symptoms of a problem, we would recommend these in-home screening tests.  For users that have their own private water source, we recommend the Test Assured Kit that includes a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter.

Recommended Level 2 Tests
National Testing LabsCityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
Crystal QuestCountertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Crystal QuestAcid-Neutralizing Whole-House Filter

<div class="product-note in-L6-alkalinity">Note: For Low Hardness / Alkalinity/ Low pH</div>

View
Crystal QuestSMART Whole-House Water Filter System

<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>

View
National Testing LabsWater Check Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
Recommended Products
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-C-3 | CityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
Crystal QuestST-CRYS-D-02 | Countertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Crystal QuestLT-CRYS-A-02 | Acid-Neutralizing Whole-House Filter

<div class="product-note in-L6-alkalinity">Note: For Low Hardness / Alkalinity/ Low pH</div>

View
Crystal QuestLT-CRYS-S-01 | SMART Whole-House Water Filter System

<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>

View
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-W-2 | WaterCheck Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
Neighborhood Environmental Report

Order a Neighborhood Environmental Report to learn about potential hazards in your community.

Level 3 | Informational Testing

Level 3 Testing is done through an accredited Water Testing Laboratory. With Level 3 Testing, you can order a testing kit that is used to prepare your sample and submit it to the lab. By utilizing a lab, you have the assurance that a certified water expert had analyzed your water sample. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment options (see below) or continue to Level 4 Testing - Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 3 Testing for Copper

If you are on a private water source, we would recommend the Water Check Standard or the Plus Water Test kit, plus some first flush testing of your water that includes calculating a corrosion index.  If you are on a City Water Source, we would recommend the first flush testing with the LSI corrosion index and a City Water Check Standard.  If you suspect long-term exposure to heavy metals and the Level 2 screening testing indicates a potential problem with lead and/or copper, we would recommend a hair analysis.   If you have a city water source and the Level 2 screening test was positive for total coliform or you notice a foul odor or slimy coatings, you may need to consider testing for nuisance bacteria and heterotrophic bacteria or standard plate count.

Recommended Level 3 Tests
National Testing LabsCityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
Crystal QuestCountertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Crystal QuestAcid-Neutralizing Whole-House Filter

<div class="product-note in-L6-alkalinity">Note: For Low Hardness / Alkalinity/ Low pH</div>

View
Crystal QuestSMART Whole-House Water Filter System

<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>

View
National Testing LabsWater Check Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View

Level 4 | Certified Testing

A Level 4 Certified Test Test uses chain-of-custody with a water professional coming to your home to prepare the water sample and then works with an accredited laboratory in order to certify your test results. This type of testing not only gives you the highest level of assurance in the accuracy of your test results, but can also be used as a document in legal cases. For Baseline Testing, we recommend that you use Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 4 Testing for Copper

Elevated copper and other corrosion by-products are a common problem with city water systems.  These problems may be related to either chemical corrosion and/or microbiologically induced corrosion.  Prior to conducting certified testing, it would be advisable to conduct the initial informational screening testing and review the information so a formal sampling plan can be developed or we can assist with summarizing the information which so you can submit to your local authority. If you have a private water source, the primary suggestion would be to have our team review your data and situation and make a formal recommendation and action plan.

Neighborhood Environmental Report

Order a Neighborhood Environmental Report to learn about potential hazards in your community.

Get Treatment | Copper

Pretreatment may be needed in some cases to ensure acceptable treatment by the primary water treatment system. Some of the treatment technologies may not be amenable to point-of-entry or even whole house treatments options. In these cases, point-of-use units may be the best option. Periodic testing should be maintained after the treatment system is in place to ensure objectives are being met and the system is operating properly and most systems will require maintenance on at least an annual basis. In the case for copper, it may be necessary to replace all or a portion of the piping and fixtures in the home and consider installing a neutralizing system to make your water less corrosive.

Short Term Treatment

If it appears you are experiencing a problem with copper, do not boil your drinking water. An interim solution may be to flush the water line prior to use, use only cold water when cooking, remove the aeration device/screen, and consider the use of a point-of-use water treatment device or using a bottled water source for cooking and consumption. Because other contaminants may be present in the water, it would be advisable to have the water tested before and after the use of any point-of-use device and conduct water testing on the first flush and flushed water from the piping.

If there appears to be a microbiological problem or condition, it may be necessary to flush and shock disinfect the system before developing a long term treatment alternative.

Recommended Short-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-alkalinity">Note: For Low Hardness / Alkalinity/ Low pH</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View

Long Term Treatment

For the long-term, it may be necessary to install a water treatment system to remove the copper or to prevent the copper from entering the water. For copper, the common water treatment technologies are ion-exchange, reverse osmosis, neutralizing system, and distillation. Depending on the technology and the concentration of copper and other contaminants, the system may require a number of treatment approaches and a combination of a whole-house treatment, then point-of-use treatment, and/or it may be advisable to change some or all of the piping and fixtures in your home.

Recommended Long-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-alkalinity">Note: For Low Hardness / Alkalinity/ Low pH</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Not Up for A DIY? Need Help Identifying a Local KnowYourH20 Team Professional? Contact Us

Archive Page Reference
This is a newly redesigned Water-Research.net page. To reference related archived Water-Research.net page(s) click the link(s) below:
No items found.