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The Dose Makes the Poison: Berkey Filters Keep Copper Out of Your Drinking Water

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.

Copper Pipe Joint Corrosion

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."

Copper Pipe Cross Section Corrosion

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.

6 thoughts on “The Dose Makes the Poison: Berkey Filters Keep Copper Out of Your Drinking Water”

  • Josh

    Research has also shown copper to be a strong causal agent in the onset of dementia: LA Times

  • Luke

    I am searching for a filter to remove copper.
    Please email me your certificate of analysis from an independent accredited lab regarding metals removal, and also including copper removal.
    Thank you,

    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Luke -

      Yes, the filters remove copper. All independent testing data can be found here below. Berkey copper removal results is under the LA Testing - Inorganic.


  • Ron jawin

    Hi- I am looking for an under counter filter for copper removal.
    Ron jawin

  • Claire

    If your water is acidic, that will pull copper out of your pipes and into your drinking water. Over time, acidic water will cause pinholes and plumbling leaks. A simple, inexpensive water test will determine if you have acidic water. I have a well, and the telltale sign that I had a acidic water was that I was getting a green residue in my sinks, and my white laundry was getting green-blue stains. The only way to reduce copper from being pulled from your pipes is to install a whole house water NEUTRALIZER. This cost just under $800 and usually can be installed by a handy homeowner or a local plumber. The Berkey will work great to clean the drinking water, but the whole house really needs to be neutralized to alleviate plumbing issues.

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