A prospective, double-blind controlled study was designed to determine the acute no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) of nausea in an apparently healthy population of 179 individuals who drank copper-containing water as the sulfate salt. Subjects were recruited at three different international sites and given a blind, randomly selected dose (0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 mg Cu/L) in a bolus of 200 ml (final total copper dose was equivalent to 0, 0.4,0.8,1.2, and 1.6 mg) once weekly over a consecutive 5-week period. Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea were screened for a period of up to 24 h. Nausea was the most frequently reported effect and was reported within the first 15 min of ingestion. For the combined trisite population (n=179),8,9,14,25, and 44 subjects responded positively to one or more GI symptoms at 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 mg Cu/L, respectively. Analysis of the data demonstrated a clear dose response to the combined positive GI effects and to nausea alone. Statistically significant greater reporting of effects occurred at 6 and 8 mg Cu/L. Therefore, an acute NOAEL and lowest-observed-adverse-effect level of 4 and 6 mg Cu/L (0.8 and 1.2 mg Cu), respectively, were determined in drinking water for a combined international human population. (C) 2001 Academic Press.