Pesticidal Copper (I) Oxide: Environmental Fate and Aquatic Toxicity

  • Lina Kiaune
  • Nan SinghasemanonEmail author
Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT, volume 213)


Besides being a naturally occurring element and an essential micronutrient, copper is used as a pesticide, but at generally higher concentrations. Copper, unlike organic pesticides, does not degrade, but rather enters a complex biogeochemical cycle. In the water column, copper can exist bound to both organic and inorganic species and as free or hydrated copper ions. Water column chemistry affects copper speciation and bioavailability. In all water types (saltwater, brackish water, and freshwater), organic ligands in the water column can sequester the majority of dissolved copper, and therefore, organic ligands play the largest role in copper bioavailability. In freshwater, however, the geochemistry of a particular location, including water column characteristics such as water hardness and pH, is a significant factor that can increase copper bioavailability and toxicity. In most cases, organic ligand concentrations greatly exceed copper ion concentrations in the water column and therefore provide a large buffering capacity. Hence, copper bioavailability can be grossly overestimated if it is based on total dissolved copper (TDCu) concentrations alone. Other factors that influence copper concentrations include location in the water column, season, temperature, depth, and level of dissolved oxygen. For example, concentrations of bioavailable copper may be significantly higher in the bottom waters and sediment pore waters, where organic ligands degrade much faster and dissolved copper is constantly resuspended and recycled into the aquatic system.


Brackish Water Particulate Organic Matter Copper Oxide Organic Ligand Ligand Concentration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



A special thanks to K. Goh and D. Oros from the Environmental Monitoring Branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Pesticide Regulation, for their help in preparing this chapter.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pesticide RegulationCalifornia Environmental Protection AgencySacramentoUSA

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