The EPA declared copper as a non-carcinogen, but there is a correlation between stunted fetus growth in animals and copper exposure. In humans, this issue is unresolved. When mining copper, workers separate the copper from other materials it is mixed with in the environment. These copper compounds can break down in nature, while pure copper particles do not. Sometimes these particles will enter the environment, air, food, and water simply by due to exposure. A small amount of copper is necessary in the body and naturally occurs in the environment when organic matter decays or forest fires occur, but high doses can be deadly. The Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation is famous for its copper mining and has been one of the largest generators of toxic waste such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium in the history of the US. They are responsible for 50 toxic waste sites in the US. It was sold in 2007 to new management, but it remains a copper mine today.
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