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Hey Waiter, There's Copper in My Drink

Carroll College is a small liberal arts college in Helena, Montana. The college's Prof. John Rowley routinely does course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) and sometimes brings his class to run analyses on equipment at the NNCI site MONT. In one such project his class studied the rate of copper leaching from the mugs that are traditionally used to serve the popular drink Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer and lime juice). The acidity of this drink strongly increases the solubility of Cu. He and his students were able to show that “the rate of copper leaching into the Moscow Mule cocktail was found to be significant and accumulated copper concentration exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinking water within 27 minutes”. Read the full paper (J. Environmental Health, 84, 8, 2022).

MONT's Dave Mogk comments that, while unsure of the overall health effects regarding Cu in the human body, Cu in natural waters is extremely toxic to trout in local fisheries, and Cu is used as an anti-fouling agent to keep bacterial colonies off of boat hulls. So think about that the next time you belly up to the bar. Maybe the message is to drink your Moscow Mules rapidly before they have a chance to corrode the cups!  Down the hatch!

This work was also covered in Chemical and Engineering News (Feb. 14, 2022).

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