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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Klevay, Leslie
item Johnson, Luann

Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/1999
Publication Date: 3/15/2000
Citation: Klevay, L.M., Johnson, L.K. 2000. Acute effects of copper in drinking water on men and women [abstract]. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 14:A794.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: With the Western diet frequently being low in copper, it is important to determine tolerable doses and chemical forms of copper salts that may be used as supplements. It also is desirable to evaluate the regulatory concentration of copper in drinking water permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This concentration is based on acute gastrointestinal effects. Thirty-one men and 30 women between 18 and 54 years (median 38 yr) agreed to drink 200 ml of demineralized water with 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 mg Cu/l (as sulfate) after an overnight fast. Exposure was random and double blind. On arrival, and 1/4, 1 and 24 hr after exposure, volunteers completed a questionnaire regarding the presence of abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, increased bowel sounds or vomit and several other confounder symptoms. A positive response was defined as a symptom present at 15 or 60 min, but absent initially. Logistic regression was used to analyze the data; the model used included copper dose, sex and subject effects. A significant and linear increase in nausea began at 4 mg/l for women and 6 mg/l for men (sex difference p < 0.01). Infrequent symptoms unrelated to copper dose included abdominal pain (6) or distension (2), backache (4), diarrhea (1), heartburn (9), increased bowel sounds (15) and vomit (1). The nausea threshold exceeds the maximum allowable concentration (EPA) of 1.3 mg/l. Concentrations of copper below the threshold were well tolerated. No large differences were found between this study and similar, contemporaneous studies done in Coleraine, Northern Ireland and Santiago, Chile; eventually data will be pooled. We thank the International Copper Association, Ltd. for partial support.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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