Copper is a chemical element.



Synonyms/Trade Names:

Allbri Natural Copper, Anac 110, Arwood Copper, Bronze Powder, CDA 101, CDA 102, C.I. 77400, C.I. Pigment Metal 2, Copper-Airborne, Copper Bronze, CopperMilled, Copper-Slag-Milled, 1721 Gold, Gold Bronze, Kafar Copper, M1 Copper, OFHC Cu, Raney Copper.


Cu .


Cubic face centered.

Crystallographic Constants:

3.615 3.615 3.615 90.000 90.000 90.000.

Crystal Group:




Optical Properties:




Powder Diagram:

2.09 1.81 1.28 1.09 (4-836).

Natural Sources:

Found as a pure metal in North America, Chile, and Australia. The most important copper ores are Kupferkies (Chalkopryrit), Buntkupfererz (Bornit), Kupferglanz (Chalkosin), Rotkupfererz (Cuprit), Malachit, and Kupferglasur (Azurit).

Medical Importance:

Key Hazards:

Possibly Carcinogenic.

Involved Organs:



Copper is an often used metal, especially in electrifying processes. Exposure may occur during mining and processing.


mg/m3 mg/m3
Australia 1
Belgium 1
Denmark 1
Finland 1
France 1 2
Germany 1 1
Great Britain 1 2
Russia 0.5 1
Hungary 0.2 0.4
Sweden 1
Switzerland 1 2
United States: ACGIH 1
United States: NIOSH/OSHA 1


Detailed data are not known; however, persons exposed to copper fumes show an increased risk of lung cancer, which has been attributed to arsenic fumes also present in the factories.

Lung Diseases:

Acute intoxication, cancer.

Clinical Presentation:

Patients present with vomiting, diarrhoea, and paralysis of respiratory muscles depending on the severeness of acute intoxication. Those with lung cancer suffer from symptoms related to the size and localization of the neoplasm.


Chest radiographs may show diffuse densities and “wet lungs” in case of intoxication, or a solid circumscribed mass in patients with lung neoplasms.

Lung Function:

Usually related to size and extent of the tumor mass.

Bronchoalveolar Lavage:

The lavage fluid may contain tumor cells, and an increased number of inflammatory cells.



The lungs are heavy, wet, and soft in consistency in patients with acute intoxications, and display solid yellowish-white, hemorrhagicnecrotic nodules in patient suffering from lung cancer.


The peripheral lung parenchyma is altered by an intra-alveolar and interstitial edema combined with invading inflammatory cells (monocytes and granulocytes) in patients with acute intoxication. All cell types of bronchial carcinoma have been found in persons working in copper mines or factories.


Fair in acute intoxication; poor in patients with lung cancer.

Additional Diseases:



search Pubmed for Copper

Aaseth J, Norseth T: Copper. In: L Friberg, GF Nordberg, VB Vouk (Eds): Handbook on the toxicology of metals. Elsevier, Amsterdam, New York (1990)
Bajpai R, Waseem M, Gupta GS, Kaw JL: Ranking toxicity of industrial dusts by Bronchoalveolar Lavage fluid analysis. Toxicology 73 (1992) 161-167
Brakhnova IT: Studies in soviet science: environmental hazards of metals. Consultants Bureau, New York (1975)
Blot WJ: Lung cancer and occupational exposure. In: M Mizell, P Correa (Eds): Lung cancer: causes and prevention. Verlag Chemie Int, Weinheim (1984) 47-64
Kayser K: Analytical Lung Pathology. Springer, Heidelberg, New York (1992)
Lewis RJ: Carcinogenically active chemicals. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York (1991)
Verma DK, Julian JA, Roberts RS, Muir DC, Jadon N, Shaw DS: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): a possible cause of lung cancer mortality among nickel/copper smelter and refinery workers. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 53 (1992) 317-324
Wirth W, Gloxhuber C: Toxikologie. Thieme, Stuttgart (1985)