Pollutant Information: Copper 

About Copper

Category: Heavy metals and base cations

Acute effects of copper fumes can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, resulting in coughing, wheezing and nosebleeds. It may also cause 'metal fume fever', which is a flu-like illness that has symptoms of a metallic taste, fever, chill, aches and chest tightness. Chronic exposure may lead to decreased fertility in both men and women. Severe irritation and ulcers in the nose may also occur. Emissions have declined by 18% since 1990, due to the decline in metal production, for example steel production and production of castings, and declining consumption of coal and, to a lesser extent, heavy fuel oil in power stations and industrial combustion plant. The use of new emission factors for tyre and brake wear from the 2016 EMEP/EEA Guidebook, together with the decline in emissions from metal production and coal use, means that vehicle brake pad wear contributed to 90% of UK copper emissions in 2018.

» View and Download Copper emission summary data

Time series graph

Notable events

Start year End year Sector Information Impact
1984 1985 Public Electricity and Heat Production Miners strike resulting in a reduction in the consumption of coal and an increase in the consumption of alternative fuels in power stations for that year. Decrease in emissions

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