CAW National Council 4000
Occupational Health and Safety

Hazardous Substances:  Copper

Copper fume can create ill-health effects when it is inhaled or when it comes in contact with the eyes or skin.

Short-Term Effects

Acute poisoning from inhalation when mild, may produce nasal irritation and causes metal fume fever with flu-like symptoms
including fever, muscle aches, chills, dry throat, cough, and weakness. It may also cause a metallic or sweet taste in the mouth.
More severe poisoning causes vomiting, diarrhea, occasionally convulsions, coma and death can result from ingesting large amounts
of copper or copper salt.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term exposure can lead to gastrointestinal problems. Prolonged exposure turns perspiration and urine green although this is
said not to be harmful. The skin and hair can change colour.

Chronic poisoning is extremely rare and is thought to affect only those workers with an inherited liver disease known as Wilson’s


Enclose process
Local exhaust ventilation
General dilution ventilation
Personal protective equipment

ACGIH TLB         - copper fume - 0.2 mg/m3    - copper dust - 1 mg/m3
U.S. OSHA:         0.1 MG/m3

Source:  CAW Health, Safety & Environment Department