Western UP Health Department

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The Sherman Township Water Supply that supplies drinking water to the Gay Location of Keweenaw County has an Action Level Exceedance for copper.

Copper is found naturally in the environment. Humans need a small amount of copper in their diet but too much copper, especially for infants, can be harmful. Drinking water with high amounts of copper can cause
upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommends homes on the Sherman Township Water Supply, with a formula fed infant less than 12 months of age, use cold-flushed water for making formula and drinking water for infants. Powdered infant formula already has the needed amount of copper. Higher levels of copper from drinking water may cause upset stomach or other health issues.

Flushing cold water should continue until the water supply indicates copper is no longer a concern. Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking food for an infant less than 12 months of age. Residents with formula-fed infants may choose to use bottled water or a water filter to reduce copper. A child’s physician can request a filter from the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department. Filters used to reduce the level of copper in drinking water should be certified NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for copper reduction.

WUPHD is sharing the Clinician’s Guidance Document with all physicians in and around the surrounding area along with the Copper Above the Action Level in Your Public Water Supply fact sheet. This document has MDHHS’s recommendations and information about copper. Physicians may request a filter for a household if the following criteria are met:

  • a formula-fed infant under 12 months lives in the home, and
  • the family has a financial need) and
  • ongoing gastrointestinal issues due to copper

Adults with disorders of copper metabolism (such as Wilson’s disease) should continue to avoid potential sources of copper, such as drinking water that contains copper, according to their clinician’s recommendation. Residents are also recommended to clean the faucet aerators to remove any particles. If you have any questions regarding the Action Level Exceedance for Infants or would like to request a filter for a patient, please contact Tanya Rule at 482-7382, extension 176 or trule@wuphd.org.