Many news outlets are reporting on a study that suggests copper may be an environmental trigger for Alzheimer’s disease. As is noted in a press release announcing the results of the study, “Copper’s presence in the food supply is ubiquitous. It is found in drinking water carried by copper pipes, nutritional supplements, and in certain foods such as red meats, shellfish, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables.”
Like lead, copper in home plumbing can leach into tap water through corrosion. Because potential problems are confined to homes with lead and copper piping, EPA regulates these contaminants differently than most. Utilities are required to collect samples of tap water from homes believed to be of higher risk, and if more than 10 percent of those samples contain high levels of lead or copper, the utility takes additional steps to control corrosion and notifies customers of the problem.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the midst of a review of the existing Lead and Copper Rule, and it’s possible that the new study will be considered within that framework. If so, it will likely be considered along other studies, some of which do not find the same degree of risk from copper.
If you are concerned about the potential dangers of lead or copper in drinking water, your water can be tested by a certified laboratory to determine if you have a problem. Your utility can help you find one.