Can an essential nutrient become a poison? Absolutely.
Copper Exposure from Drinking Water
Because copper is such a common element, deficiency is extremely rare, except in the case medical problems disrupting nutrient absorption. Most people get plenty of copper in a basic healthful diet.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency: "Some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level may, with short term exposure, experience gastrointestinal distress, and with long-term exposure may experience liver or kidney damage. People with Wilson's Disease should consult their personal doctor if the amount of copper in their water exceeds the action level."
How Does Copper Get Into Drinking Water
In addition to naturally occurring copper, mining, farming, and manufacturing operations release copper into the environment, including rivers and lakes providing drinking water to millions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Lakes and rivers that have been treated with copper compounds to control algae, or that receive cooling water from power plants, can have high levels of copper. Soils can also contain high levels of copper, especially if they are near copper smelting plants."
Copper is also commonly used in plumbing supplies, where it can leach into the water sitting in household pipes. A water utility may deliver water with copper at safe levels which then becomes contaminated by corrosion of the plumbing materials belonging to the water system customers.
You cannot see, taste, or smell copper dissolved in water. The only way to know for sure if you have a contamination problem is by having your water tested. EPA warms: "You should be particularly suspicious if your home has copper pipes. if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water, stained dishes or laundry, or if your non-plastic plumbing is less than five years old."
How Much Copper is Safe to Drink?
The Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for copper is 1.3 mg/L or 1.3 ppm.
What Does the EPA Do About Copper in Drinking Water?
EPA requires water utilities to collect tap water samples from sites served by the system. If more than 10 percent of samples exceed the copper action level of 1.3 milligrams per Liter (mg/L), water utlilites must take additional steps to reduce the corrosivity of the water.
Berkey Water Filters Remove 95% of Detectible Copper from Drinking Water
Because even people who are served by water supplies with safe levels of copper can have a contamination problem within their homes, point of service water filters are a smart defense. The Black Berkey Filter Elements that come standard with all the Berkey systems remove 95% and higher of detectible copper and other heavy metals.