Copper and its compounds are widely used in various industries: textile, engineering, aviation and electrical. In everyday life, this metal is also used, often in the form of copper sulphate and Bordeaux liquids, which are indispensable in agriculture and in garden plots.
Copper is the most important component of the enzyme system of the human body, thanks to which all biochemical processes and blood formation are carried out. Receipt of excess leads to copper poisoning. We will try to figure out how this manifests itself and what needs to be done in an emergency.
Causes of copper poisoning
For normal functioning, the body needs about 3 mg of copper per day. Stocks are replenished by eating foods rich in this trace element: potatoes, spinach, buckwheat, oats, by-products (kidneys, liver). To poison in this case is impossible.
Toxic concentrations of copper can enter the human body in three ways:
- with food, if copper dishes are used for cooking, a solution or copper dust is accidentally caught;
- by inhalation: inhalation of dust in violation of safety procedures in the processing and grinding of metal surfaces containing copper;
- through the skin when using compresses with solutions of copper salt, for example, in the treatment of extensive burns.
How do copper compounds act on the body?
Depending on the way in which the poisonous substance enters the body, irritation of the mucous membrane of the respiratory, digestive organs or skin occurs. Sucking into the blood, copper acts primarily on red blood cells. The membrane of the red blood cells is damaged, and they are destroyed. A significant amount of hemoglobin enters the bloodstream, which is manifested in the yellow color of the skin. This process is called hemolysis.
With copper intoxication, liver cells are affected. Damage to the nervous system and lungs. Renal failure develops.
Copper poisoning symptoms
In case of copper poisoning, the first symptoms appear 4 hours after the poison has entered the body. Sometimes the incubation period lasts two days.
Main complaints when a toxic substance is ingested with food:
- on the part of the digestive system: pain in the abdomen, taste of metal in the mouth, burning sensation, nausea, vomiting, often bloody or blue, drooling and diarrhea;
- general symptoms of intoxication: headaches, dizziness, general weakness;
- effects on the cardiovascular system: tachycardia, a sharp drop in pressure;
- jaundice due to hemolysis and development of liver failure;
- acute renal failure;
- other symptoms: convulsions and respiratory failure.
When the poison is ingested by inhalation, the symptoms of “copper fever” are added to the listed symptoms:
- eye irritation, sneezing, tearing;
- chills as a result of an increase in temperature to 38–39 ° C;
- heavy sweat, severe weakness and muscle pain;
- dry cough and shortness of breath;
- possible appearance of an allergic rash.
Copper poisoning through the skin is rare, as compresses with a solution of copper salts are not widely used. Dry matter does not have a harmful effect, and accidentally ingested solution can be quickly removed with ordinary water.
Copper sulphate poisoning
Special mention should be made of copper sulphate poisoning. This is an aqueous solution of the copper salt of sulfuric acid. It is used as an antiseptic, antifungal and fertilizer in home gardens, as well as in agriculture. It is widely used for the manufacture of paints, wood processing and plastered surfaces as a fungicide.
Lethal dose when ingested is 8-30 grams. It all depends on the individual characteristics of the person: weight, age, concomitant diseases, hypersensitivity. Symptoms of poisoning with copper sulfate are observed when using 0.5 grams of the substance.
Copper sulfate is the main component of Bordeaux liquid. It is used to combat mold fungus. Used frequently. Rough handling can cause unpleasant consequences.
Copper sulfate poisoning is characterized by all the symptoms that are observed with the toxic effects of copper-containing compounds.
First aid for copper poisoning depends on the route of entry of a poisonous substance into the body.
Help, if the toxic substance was taken orally, is as follows.
- Induce vomiting and flush the stomach to clean water.
- Take activated carbon: a tablespoon in a glass of water.
- Be sure to use a saline laxative for the rapid cleansing of the digestive tract: Glauber's salt or magnesium sulfate.
- Drink plenty of fluids, excluding fat-containing beverages: milk and oil solutions. This is due to the fact that copper is soluble in fats. Egg white can be added to the water. Do not eat sour drink, which even more irritates the damaged mucous membrane of the digestive tract.
- For abdominal pain, a warming pad can be applied to reduce spasm.
If the poison got through the respiratory tract, then with the appearance of signs of "copper fever":
- take a large amount of fluid;
- use antipyretic drugs and diuretics.
If copper salt gets on the skin, wash the affected area thoroughly with water.
In all cases, you must call the ambulance brigade!
Copper poisoning treatment
After providing emergency care, further treatment of copper poisoning is carried out by medical staff: first by the emergency doctor, then in the hospital.
The main treatment includes:
- the introduction of a universal antidote - Unithiol (Dimercaprol) every three hours in the form of intramuscular injections;
- antiemetic - Aminazin intravenously;
- Morphine or Atropine is administered as a pain reliever;
- hemolysis uses sodium bicarbonate intravenously;
- if there are symptoms of "copper fever", then you will need to introduce intravenous solution of Eufillin, antitussive or expectorant drugs;
- hemodialysis is performed to remove toxins from the body;
- vitamin therapy;
- antibacterial drugs if necessary;
- treatment of complications: acute renal, respiratory and heart failure.
All these activities are carried out in the treatment of copper sulfate poisoning.
In order to avoid the adverse effects of exposure to copper, you should know some rules.
- Proper use of copper utensils: do not prepare products containing acid and vinegar; When cooking milk or fat, immediately drain the product after cooking, without waiting for it to cool.
- When working with copper sulphate in garden areas, use protective equipment: a mask and gloves.
- Do not store toxic substances in unmarked containers in order to avoid accidental use, especially by children.
- Observe safety regulations when processing copper surfaces: wear goggles, gloves and a respirator. Do not work in areas where food is stored. After work, thoroughly clean the chips and dust with a vacuum cleaner and do a wet cleaning.
- When working with copper compounds, you should not touch your face with your hands and wipe them on your clothes.
In life, each person may be faced with the need to use copper and its compounds. Knowledge of the rules for dealing with such objects and substances, symptoms of copper poisoning, methods of emergency care, it may be very useful to someone.