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October 1, 1982

Hazards of Metal Processing

JAMA. 1982;248(13):1580. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330130028016

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To the Editor.—  The appearance of two reports in The Journal on hydrogen sulfide (H2S) poisoning (1981; 246:1588) and mercury poisoning from home gold ore processing (1981; 246:1929) prompts us to report an unusual fatal case of poisoning that combines aspects of both reports. As the authors of the second report point out, the recent increase in the price of gold has stimulated many individuals to attempt to recover pure metal as a home "industry." The starting materials often include metals contained in waste industrial products. Silver, although not nearly as profitable to cover, is also processed, and makes up in part for its lower price by being much more readily available, particularly in outdated photographic film.

Report of a Case.—  A case was brought to our attention involving a 20-year-old man who engaged in full-time gold and silver processing in a friend's home. Two weeks before his