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Copper Sulphate – Guidelines to Safety and First Aid Procedures

Copper sulfate is a very useful compound. However, needless to say, this chemical goes from irritating to extremely toxic depending on how it is handled. Well, all substances, even water become toxic. Toxicity depends on quantity and proper use.

Copper sulphate is a fairly stable compound which means it does not react easily with other substances. It is not flammable or combustible. But it is an environmental pollutant and must be incorporated carefully when used in its various applications.

Initial exposure to copper sulfate causes irritation to the eyes, nasal passages, and skin. Skin irritation includes itching and redness. During the initial inhalation there is a cough and difficulty breathing. The substance is also irritating to the gastrointestinal tract. Causes vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, loose bowel movement and metallic taste. In large doses accidentally taken kidney failure, coma or even death can occur. Long-term exposure to copper sulfate can lead to liver damage, lung disease, and reduced female fertility.

Copper occurs naturally in soil and water. Its presence in small concentrations is necessary for the growth of plants and animals. But in high concentrations copper and its compounds can pose some threat. Reduced lifespan, reproductive problems, reduced fertility, and changes in behavior and appearance are observed in animals, birds, fish, and plants exposed to copper sulfate. This environmental pollutant can find its way from one organism to another in what is called bioaccumulation or biomagnification.

Therefore, proper handling of Copper Sulphate is required to avoid negative effects that may otherwise accompany it.

1. Storage should be in a cool, dry place with adequate ventilation. Alkalis, magnesium, ammonia, acetylene and sodium hypobromide are some of the substances with which copper sulfate cannot be held. The container must be kept tightly closed. Wash hands thoroughly after using the compound and especially before eating or drinking.

2. Wear protective clothing, impervious gloves and rubber boots to avoid skin contact. You should also wear eye protection such as goggles.

3. Work areas must be well ventilated. This avoids the accumulation of copper sulfate fumes or mist in an area.

4. If possible, protective masks should be worn to prevent inhalation.

5. It is an offense to dispose of copper waste in waterways. High concentrations of copper in rivers and streams are toxic to aquatic ecosystems.

The following measures can be taken in case of contact:

1. In case of eye contact, immediately flush the affected eye with running gentle warm water for approximately 20 minutes. Keep the eyelids open. Make sure the water is clean. If the sufferer wears a contact lens, do not hesitate to remove it. Get medical help.

2. In case of skin contact, contaminated clothing, pants, shoes, etc. must be removed. Gently wash the area with clean, lukewarm running water for five minutes. Get medical help quickly.

3. In case of accidental inhalation, remove the victim from the area to the open air and then seek medical attention.

4. If a person has swallowed Copper Sulfate, have the victim drink 60 to 240 ml of water. The victim may vomit. This is the body’s natural way of eliminating the foreign substance. Rinse his mouth with water. However, never force the victim to drink water if they are unconscious.

Copper sulfate spills are a health hazard. The area must be isolated and any attempt to enter by unauthorized and unprotected persons must not be allowed. Small spills can be cleaned and wiped up. Large volumes of spilled copper sulfate can be neutralized with sodium carbonate or sodium carbonate. Dispose of waste materials properly afterwards. Contamination of this substance in soil, streams and sewers must be avoided. The substance is a known pollutant at certain levels.

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