A review of copper’s use in the electrical industry suggests copper is safe for copperheads.
CBC News found the average copperhead has a copper-oxide level of less than 1 per cent.
In some cases, a copper oxide level can be as high as 3 per cent, according to a study released in 2016 by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
But the results are not universally consistent, with some researchers finding that copper oxide levels can be much higher than that.
The study looked at data from more than 4,000 Australian homes and found that about 15 per cent of households had copper oxide concentrations that were less than 5 per cent by the end of the life of their copper wire.
Copper-oxide levels in the range of 5 to 7 per cent are more common in older homes.
It’s possible that the higher copper levels in older copperheads are a result of higher exposure to the metal, according the study.
“We are finding more and more evidence that copper is not an unsafe metal,” said University of Sydney researcher Peter Jankowski.
We are seeing it now and I think that’s the way it’s going to continue to evolve,” he said.
Jankowski is a senior lecturer in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Western Australia.
His research has looked at the health effects of copper on copperheads, including copper allergies and skin sensitivities.
As copper is commonly used as a conductor, he said, it’s possible copper-oxidants could react with the copper wire and cause problems for copperhead households.
When copper-containing coatings are applied, it can react with copper wire in ways that can cause problems, Jankowsky said.
In the study, he found that copper-based coatings with a copper percentage of less that 5 per or 7 per per cent were found to have a higher than average copper oxide concentration.
He said this may indicate that the copper-type copper coating used in older buildings may have an increased risk of copper toxicity.”
We don’t know the extent of the problem,” Jankowitz said.
He said copper-coated copper coatings may have higher copper oxide and zinc content than those used in newer buildings.
This is not the first time copper-coloured coatings have been linked to copper-induced health problems.
A 2010 study published in the journal Science found copper-titanium oxide-based copper coatations increased the risk of skin sensitization in people with copper allergies.
According to Jankowksi, a number of studies have looked at copper-colored coatings and copper allergy symptoms in older people.
For example, he says, a study published last year found copper coated stainless steel doors with copper-infused coatings increased skin sensitivity and irritability in people over the age of 70.
Some of the newer studies also suggest that copper coated copper-plated doors may increase the risk for copper-associated skin reactions.
Researchers are looking at whether copper-alloy coatings could cause more copper-related skin reactions in older individuals.
To learn more about copper-free coatings, visit the Canadian Institute of Technology’s website.