Geology And Geophysics
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Copper in the Environment



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When copper is found in the atmosphere, it is only in small amounts and is on its way to earth,  It does not float but is pushed with the wind and the rain. It is forced out of the surrounding air by the forces of nature and is bound to the soil and is held there until extracted or used. Copper does not soak down deep and is no threat to ground water. It can however, if it is in stagnant ponds near copper refineries and near other manufacturing places that use copper contaminate water. When it is in stagnant ponds, it  is a  source of water contamination.

Copper is a necessary additive in many technological systems as well as traces of of it are naturally found in the body and in nature. Although copper is naturally present in the environment, it, unlike helium that is so light it floats high up in the atmosphere, is heavier and and is found mostly in the soil. 

The atomic weight of copper is 29, and you can see how much heavier this 'transitional' chemical is when compared to the atomic weight of the gases, hydrogen (H)and helium(He at 2. Transitional chemical are chemicals such as silver, gold, nickel and others That have properties that allow them to easily be combined with others of like qualities to form alloys.

Various metals are formed from these transitional chemicals such as brass, bronze, tin and so on. Seldom ever are these used in their pure form. Even gold must have the addition of some other hardening element. Yet the question concerns itself with the presence of copper in the atmosphere.

In the body, copper is a trace mineral and is necessary for healthy bones and joints and is found in nuts, raisins, prunes, shell fish, and in green leafy vegetables. Most people probably get enough in their diet although vitamin supplements contain a bit of this vitamin. Contrary to what sellers of copper bracelets claim, it has no effect on arthritis. About the only good from this is to the manufacturers of these health gimmicks.

However, as we have seen health information is forever changing and what we learn today about such and such quackery may be proved by tomorrow to be beneficial. An example: In the last few years the wearing of patches with medication on them that react with the normal activity of the outer layers of the skin is not quackery but good medicine. Therefore it is reasonable to leave room for the greenish sheen that forms on copper, the patina, to have some benefits to the joints and bones. So lets leave room for the possibly of a benefit that could assist the affected part in getting much needed electrical stimulation. This kind of stimulation brings fresh blood supplies with healing nutrients. This is purely speculation on my part and read it as such.

Copper is well known as an excellent conductor of heat and electricity and in industry this is where it is best utilized. If you are over the age of fifty you will remember when copper bottom pans were the in thing for a well stocked modern kitchen. They still are used and are still around, but other types of cook ware is now more popular. Keeping them clean takes a lot of elbow grease. The copper interacts with moisture in the kitchen and not only patina forms but cooking pot black. At least elbow joints were kept well lubricated if you happened to be a good housekeeper. And too, what would piggy banks do without all those copper pennies stashed away?

Conflicting reports on the effects of gardening when a larger amount of copper than was necessary was in the soi is found onlinei and is somewhat confusing. In fact few plants will grow with an excess of copper in the soil. Those that do manage to grow will of course have too much copper. The conflict is the addition to copper as an ingredient of a fertilizer. Will this, I ask cause a buildup of copper?

Too much copper is poison to the body. The usual symptoms of metal poisoning is nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhea. This could be a concern if copper tubing is used throughout the house. Most of this type of plumbing and wiring is found  in old houses and if the copper pipes are damaged, it could be a source of trouble.

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