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in 1996. EXTOXNET no longer updates this information, but it may be useful
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E X T O X N E T
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EXTOXNET primary files maintained and archived at Oregon State
Revised June 1996
Trade and Other Names:
Copper sulfate is also called Agritox, Basicap, BSC Copper
Fungicide, CP Basic Sulfate and Tri-Basic Copper Sulfate. The
pentahydrate form is called bluestone, blue vitriol, Salzburg
vitriol, Roman vitriol, and blue copperas. Bordeaux Mixture is a
combination of hydrated lime and copper sulfate. Copper sulfate
is often found in combination with other pesticides.
Copper sulfate is classified as a General Use Pesticide (GUP) by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Copper sulfate is
toxicity class I - highly toxic. It bears the Signal Word DANGER
- POISON. Because of its potentially harmful effects on some
endangered aquatic species, surface water use may require a
permit in some places.
Chemical Class: sulfate
Copper sulfate is a fungicide used to control bacterial and
fungal diseases of fruit, vegetable, nut, and field crops. These
diseases include mildew, leaf spots, blights, and apple scab. It
is used as a protective fungicide (Bordeaux mixture) for leaf
application and seed treatment. It is also used as an algacide
and herbicide, and to kill slugs and snails in irrigation and
municipal water treatment systems. It has been used to control
dutch elm disease. It is available as a dust, wettable powder, or
Formulation: It is
available as a dust, wettable powder, or liquid concentrate.
- Acute toxicity: Copper sulfate is
caustic and acute toxicity is largely due to this
property . There have been reports of human suicide
resulting from the ingestion of gram quantities of this
material . The lowest dose of copper sulfate that has
been toxic when ingested by humans is 11 mg/kg .
Ingestion of copper sulfate is often not toxic because
vomiting is automatically triggered by its irritating
effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms are
severe, however, if copper sulfate is retained in the
stomach, as in the unconscious victim. Some of the signs
of poisoning which occurred after 1 to 12 g of copper
sulfate was swallowed include a metallic taste in the
mouth, burning pain in the chest and abdomen, intense
nausea, repeated vomiting, diarrhea, headache, sweating,
shock, discontinued urination leading to yellowing of the
skin. Injury to the brain, liver, kidneys, and stomach
and intestinal linings may also occur in copper sulfate
poisoning . Copper sulfate can be corrosive to the
skin and eyes . It is readily absorbed through the
skin and can produce a burning pain, as well as the other
symptoms of poisoning resulting from ingestion. Skin
contact may result in itching or eczema . It is a skin
sensitizer and can cause allergic reactions in some
individuals . Eye contact with this material can
cause conjunctivitis, inflammation of the eyelid lining,
cornea tissue deterioration, and clouding of the cornea
. Examination of copper sulfate poisoned animals
showed signs of acute toxicity in the spleen, liver, and
kidneys . Injury may also occur to the brain, liver,
kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract in response to
overexposure to this material . The oral LD50 of
copper is 472 mg/kg in rats .
- Chronic toxicity: Vineyard sprayers
experienced liver disease after 3 to 15 years of exposure
to copper sulfate solution in Bordeaux mixture . Long
term effects are more likely in individuals with Wilson's
disease, a condition which causes excessive absorption
and storage of copper . Chronic exposure to low
levels of copper can lead to anemia . The growth of
rats was retarded when given dietary doses of 25
mg/kg/day of copper sulfate. Dietary doses of 200
mg/kg/day caused starvation and death . Sheep given
oral doses of 20 mg/kg/day showed blood cell and kidney
damage . They also showed an absence of appetite,
anemia, and degenerative changes .
- Reproductive effects: Copper sulfate has
been shown to cause reproductive effects in test animals.
Testicular atrophy increased in birds as they were fed
larger amounts of copper sulfate. Sperm production was
also interrupted to varying degrees . Reproduction and
fertility was affected in pregnant rats given this
material on day 3 of pregnancy .
- Teratogenic effects: There is very
limited evidence about the teratogenic effects of copper
sulfate. Heart disease occurred in the surviving
offspring of pregnant hamsters given intravenous copper
salts on day 8 of gestation . These data suggest that
copper sulfate is unlikely to be teratogenic in humans at
expected exposure levels.
- Mutagenic effects: Copper sulfate may
cause mutagenic effects at high doses. At 400 and 1000
ppm, copper sulfate caused mutations in two types of
microorganisms . Such effects are not expected in
humans under normal conditions.
- Carcinogenic effects: Copper sulfate at
10 mg/kg/day caused endocrine tumors in chickens given
the material parenterally, that is, outside of the
gastrointestinal tract through an intravenous or
intramuscular injection . However, the relevance of
these results to mammals, including humans, is not known.
- Organ toxicity: Long-term animal studies
indicate that the testes and endocrine glands have been
- Fate in humans and animals: Absorption
of copper sulfate into the blood occurs primarily under
the acidic conditions of the stomach. The mucous membrane
lining of the intestines acts as a barrier to absorption
of ingested copper . After ingestion, more than 99% of
copper is excreted in the feces. However, residual copper
is an essential trace element that is strongly
bioaccumulated . It is stored primarily in the liver,
brain, heart, kidney, and muscles.
- Effects on birds: Copper sulfate is
practically nontoxic to birds. It poses less of a threat
to birds than to other animals. The lowest lethal dose
(LDLo) is 1000 mg/kg in pigeons and 600 mg/kg in ducks
. The oral LD50 for Bordeaux mixture in young mallards
is 2000 mg/kg .
- Effects on aquatic organisms: Copper
sulfate is highly toxic to fish . Even at recommended
rates of application, this material may be poisonous to
trout and other fish, especially in soft or acid waters.
Its toxicity to fish generally decreases as water
hardness increases. Fish eggs are more resistant than
young fish fry to the toxic effects of copper sulfate
. Copper sulfate is toxic to aquatic invertebrates,
such as crab, shrimp, and oysters. The 96-hour LC50 of
copper sulfate to pond snails is 0.39 mg/L at 20 C.
Higher concentrations of the material caused some
behavioral changes, such as secretion of mucous, and
discharge of eggs and embryos .
- Effects on other organisms: Bees are
endangered by Bordeaux mixture . Copper sulfate may be
poisonous to sheep and chickens at normal application
rates. Most animal life in soil, including large
earthworms, have been eliminated by the extensive use of
copper containing fungicides in orchards .
- Breakdown in soil and groundwater: Since
copper is an element it will persist indefinitely. Copper
is bound, or adsorbed, to organic materials, and to clay
and mineral surfaces. The degree of adsorption to soils
depends on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil .
Because copper sulfate is highly water soluble, it is
considered one of the more mobile metals in soils.
However, because of it binding capacity, its leaching
potential is low in all but sandy soils . When applied
with irrigation water, copper sulfate does not accumulate
in the surrounding soils. Some (60%) is deposited in the
sediments at the bottom of the irrigation ditch, where it
becomes adsorbed to clay, mineral, and organic particles.
Copper compounds also settle out of solution .
- Breakdown in water: As an element,
copper can persist indefinitely. However, it will bind to
water particulates and sediment.
- Breakdown in vegetation: One of the
limiting factors in the use of copper compounds is their
serious potential for phytotoxicity . Copper sulfate
can kill plants by disrupting photosynthesis. Blue-green
algae in some copper sulfate treated Minnesota lakes
became increasingly resistant to the algacide after 26
years of use .
- Appearance: Copper sulfate crystals are
blue or green white and odorless .
- Chemical Name: copper sulfate 
- CAS Number: 7758-98-7
- Molecular Weight: 249.68
- Water Solubility: Anhydrous form;
230,500 mg/L at 25 C 
- Solubility in Other Solvents: methanol
s.s. ; ethanol i.s. 
- Melting Point: Above 110 C, copper
sulfate loses water of crystallization with formation of
the monohydrate; above 250 C it loses all water of
- Vapor Pressure: Nonvolatile 
- Partition Coefficient: Not Available
- Adsorption Coefficient: Not Available
- ADI: Not Available
- MCL: Not Available
- RfD: Not Available
- PEL: 1.0 mg/m3 (8-hour) (copper dusts or
- HA: Not Available
- TLV: Not Available
CP Chemical Inc.
1 Parker Plaza
Ft. Lee, NJ 07024
- Phone: 800-223-8567
- Emergency: Not Available
References for the information in this PIP can be found in
Reference List Number 10
information in this profile does not in any way replace or
supersede the information on the pesticide product labeling or
other regulatory requirements. Please refer to the pesticide