Table of contents
- Copper Oxide - Red
- Key Data
- Exposure Routes
- Health and Safety Practice
- Regulatory Requirements
Other names: Copper (I) oxide, cuprous oxide, cuprite
Appearance: Brownish red powder
Solubility: Insoluble in water, but soluble in acids
Melting Point: 1232°C
A pigment in glazes.
Copper oxide can act as an eye irritant.
Some people have an allergic reaction to copper metal, causing itching. There's no data on if this occurs with copper oxide.
Not absorbed if dry or in water.
Copper dust is a respiratory irritant, causing coughing, sneezing and a runny nose at low levels, and long term, very high levels leading to pulmonary fibrosis and increased vascularity of the nasal mucosa. However there is no data on whether this applies to copper oxide.
There is very little data on copper absorption throught the lungs, but it looks as though absorption rates are very low.
Up to 60% of ingested copper can be absorbed into the body, but the greater the concentration of copper in the gut, the lower the absorption rate. This tends to make the rate of absorption self-limiting.
As red copper oxide is soluble in acids, the rate of absorption is likely to be higher than insoluble forms.
Excess copper can attack the liver and kidney, and may also have an adverse effect on the immune system.
The minimum risk level (MRL) for ingestion of copper is 0.01mg/kg bw/day, so for red copper oxide is 0.0225mg/kg bw/day, i.e. 1.35mg/day for a 60kg person.
Ingestion of a single dose of about 0.04 mg/kg bw (0.017-0.018 mg Cu/kg bw) (2.3mg for a 60kg person) can result in nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. This is transient, and doesn't cause any long term problems.
Ingestion of large quantities can be toxic. but the level for this is far greater than the potter will encounter.
There are three rare diseases that result in excessive concentrations of copper in the liver, and resultant severe liver damage: Wilson’s disease, Indian childhood cirrhosis, and idiopathic copper toxicosis.
Prolonged inhalation of copper or copper sulfate irritates the respiratory tract, though there is no evidence to show whether or not this is also the case for copper oxide.
No known effects. Animals tests on some other copper compounds have shown some genotoxicity, but these have not been found in humans.
Not a carcinogen.
No known effects.
|Organisation||Limit mg/m3 as Cu||Notes|
|ACGIH||0.2||For fumes. 8 hour TWA|
|ACGIH||1||For dusts and mists. 8 hour TWA|
|NIOSH REL||0.1||For fumes. 10 hour TWA|
|NIOSH REL||1||For dusts and mists. 10 hour TWA|
|OSHA PEL||0.1||For fumes. 8 hour TWA|
|OSHA PEL||1||For dusts and mists. 8 hour TWA|
|PAC-1||0.68||Notable discomfort level|
|PAC-2||16||Long lasting or irreversible serious adverse health effects|
|PAC-3||93||Life threatening effects or death|