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Copper sulphate — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Copper sulphate, a whitish powder, is a sulphate salt of copper that is used as a potent emetic – an agent that causes vomiting – as an antidote for poisoning by phosphorus. It also serves as an agent to prevent the growth of algae.

Copper sulphate is a powerful emetic, but using it as such is highly discouraged by physicians, because there is a high potential for toxicity when you use improperly prepared solutions.

Copper sulphate is also used as a supplement to fill a copper deficiency.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency classified copper sulphate as a general use material; however, the agency required that the warning signal “DANGER” must be placed on all labels of copper sulphate products that contain 99 percent active ingredient in crystalline form.

List of known side effects

Copper sulphate exposure may cause skin irritations. It can also cause prostration or the state of being extremely weak.

Copper sulphate has cancer-causing elements. It is very toxic to aquatic life.

Body systems affected by copper sulphate

Copper sulphate is bad for the excretory system. Copper overdose can cause acute liver injury while chronic ingestion of a huge amount of the chemical can cause chronic liver injury. It can also cause hepatitis and nephritis, or inflammation of the kidney; anuria or the non-passage of urine; hematuria or the presence of blood in the urine; and icterus or jaundice.

Copper sulphate is bad for the digestive system. Copious amounts of it can cause enteritis, or inflammation of the small intestine. It can also induce gastroenteric side effects such as hemorrhages, local corrosion, and pain.

Copper sulphate is bad for the ocular system. It can seriously damage the eyes.

Copper sulphate is bad for the circulatory system. It causes anemia and an increase in white blood cells.

Copper sulphate is bad for the respiratory system. It can damage this body system so as to leave the victim in a coma.

Items that can contain copper sulphate

Copper sulphate has a lot of medicinal uses. It can be used as an astringent antiseptic for follicular or granular conjunctivitis, granular vaginitis, and otitis or the inflammation of the middle ear. It also heals the skin that has been infested with ringworm.

Copper sulphate destroys fistilous tracts, which are abnormal connections between two hollow spaces, such as blood vessels, hollow organs, or intestines. It also has been dubbed as a treatment for ulcerative stomatitis.

How to avoid copper sulphate

Always remember to wear protective clothing whenever handling this substance. The protective materials include cotton overalls, boots, face shield, safety goggles, PVC gloves, and washable hat.

Where to learn more


Copper sulphate is bad for the ocular, circulatory, respiratory, excretory, and digestive systems.

Copper sulphate is used as a supplement to fill a copper deficiency.

Copper sulphate exposure may cause skin irritations.

Sources include:


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