What is it?
Water can be a significant source of copper intake depending upon the geographic location, water character, water temperature, and the presence of copper pipes.
Copper is a metal found in natural deposits as ores containing other elements. It is widely used in household plumbing materials.
At concentrations above 1mg/I, copper can stain laundry and plumbing fixtures. Copper can also cause a greenish/blue tint to blond hair. Copper is an essential element at lower levels but levels above 5 mg/I can cause gastrointestinal disturbances or other acute toxic effects.
What do the results mean? Is copper regulated?
The MCLG for copper has been set at 1.3 parts per million (ppm) because EPA believes this level of protection would not cause any of the potential health problems described below.Since copper contamination generally occurs from corrosion of household copper pipes, it cannot be directly detected or removed by the public water system. Instead,
EPA is requiring water systems to control the corrosiveness of their water if the level of copper at home taps exceeds
an Action Level.The Action Level for copper has also been set at 1.3 ppm because EPA believes, given present technology and resources, this is the lowest level to which water systems can reasonably be required to control this contaminant should it occur in drinking water at their customers home taps.These drinking water standards and the regulations for ensuring these standards are met, are called National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. All public water supplies must abide by these regulations.
Testing for Copper
A colorimetric test method is Copper by Neocuproine based upon Standard Methods 3500-Cu-B. Using a colorimeter this can be and easy and accurate analysis for field measurements.
Laboratories analyzing drinking water samples can utilize various methods including EPA method 200.7 and 200.8 which utilize an Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) or the Standards Method 31138 which uses Graphite Furnace.
As previously stated, copper in water is usually a result of corrosion of copper pipes or materials containing copper, so you may want todetermine if a low pH is responsible for the copper. If pH is too low you can treat using soda ash
feed. Distillation and Reverse Osmosis are both capable of removing copper but mostly unnecessary if you correct the cause of corrosion.