Copper is present in different concentrations and chemical forms throughout the earth crust, surface and deep
water and even, in trace amounts, in the atmosphere itself. Copper is one of the first metals used by humans, the first artifacts
dating back 10,000 years ago. Currently, the world production of refined copper exceeds 16,000 tons / year. Copper
is a micro-element essential to life, principally for its red-ox properties that make it a necessary cofactor for many enzymes,
like cytochrome-c oxidase and superoxide dismutase. In some animal species (e.g. octopus, snails, spiders, oysters)
copper-hemocyanins also act as carriers of oxygen instead of hemoglobin. However, these red-ox properties also
make the pair Cu+/Cu2+ a formidable catalyst for the formation of reactive oxygen species, when copper is present in excess
in the body or in tissues. The treatment of choice in cases of copper overloading or intoxication is the chelation therapy.
Different molecules are already in clinical use as chelators or under study or clinical trial. It is worth noting that
chelation therapy has also been suggested to treat some neurodegenerative diseases or cardiovascular disorders. In this review,
after a brief description of the homeostasis and some cases of dyshomeostasis of copper, the main (used or potential)
chelators are described; their properties in solution, even in relation to the presence of metal or ligand competitors,
under physiological conditions, are discussed. The legislation of the most important Western countries, regarding both the
use of chelating agents and the limits of copper in foods, drugs and cosmetics, is also outlined.