Copper and its compounds

The substance
Metallic copper is a reddish coloured metal. The metal melts at 1083 0C. It is quite malleable and a good conductor of heat and electricity. In terms of electrical conductivity, only silver is more effective - thus it is widely used in the electrical industry. Copper is found in many different minerals including cuprite, malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite and bornite.

Copper is used widely in electronic and electrical applications, heat exchangers and motors. It is used in plumbing tubes and fittings, building construction and roofing and in chemical and 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 is also an essential element and serves as a nutritive additive in livestock mineral feeds along with other trace nutrients.

Major emissions
Main anthropogenic sources 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 human health and environment
Excessive exposure to copper and its compounds may cause health effects on the digestive system, eye, kidney, liver, lung and nose. Copper is toxic to aquatic life and certain soil micro-organisms potentially disrupting nutrient cycling processes. However, hazards depend upon the form and bioavailability of copper.

Emission to air reporting threshold: 100 kg/year

Emission to water reporting threshold: 50 kg/year

Data source: European Pollutant Emission Register