Copper (noted in the table of elements as Cu, from the Latin cuprum, a corrupted form of the name Cyprium, from the island where it was mined by the Romans)) is a soft, highly conductive metal. It is a common metal easily mined and easily available – allowing for millions of years of human use at the current rate.
Copper can be found as such in nature, and it doesn’t need extraction, which made it available for extensive use by humans as early as 8,000 B.C. It is highly ductile and conductive, which makes it very useful for various industries.
Although orange red when exposed to air, it does oxidize slowly and turns black or, over time, green. The most famous example of such verdigris coloration of a copper layer is in the Statue of Liberty. In various combinations, it can acquire various other colors and tinges.
Copper is also extremely useful in various alloys, such as brass (copper and zinc) or bronze (copper and tin or aluminum). It is used in jewelry solders, undersea or seaside construction, ornaments, household items etc., precisely because it is resistant to corrosion.
Copper is naturally found in all living organisms, and in many it constitutes part of the blood pigment. In humans it is commonly found in the liver, bones and muscles.
Although copper is essential to humans in very small doses, exposure to excess levels can be extremely harmful. Sources of copper toxicity can be anything from exposed copper in cookware to contaminated drinking water or excessive use of supplement pills. Copper wiring, insecticides and other unprotected products rich in copper can also represent contaminants. Symptoms of copper poisoning include: