How to Avoid Poisoning Yourself with Metals

What’s the risk of poisoning yourself if you’re storing items made from precious metals that you’d like to recycle? What could happen to you if melt them down and attempt to process them?

Image of poison skull and crossbones on yellow hand for blog post about how not to poison yourself recycling precious metals. Credit: iJacky/iStock.

Actually, chances are pretty good that you’re going to do yourself a lot of harm. Why? Here’s some information you should know.

People often make the mistake of thinking that precious metals are not easily absorbed into the body and cannot cause harm. That thinking overlooks the fact that precious metals are often alloyed with base metals that can make you very, very sick. So if you melt or smelt precious metal alloys that contain those other metals or chemicals – or if you ingest them or inhale them in the form of powder or filings – you could be asking for a lot of trouble.

Metals and Chemicals that Can Poison You

Now we get to the scary stuff. Here’s a quick overview of how common metals and chemicals that can harm you if you come into contact with them:

  • Cadmium – nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea, fever, softening of bones, and lung damage
  • Chromium – lung cancer, gastrointestinal problems, kidney and heart damage
  • Cobalt – nausea, vomiting, and damage to the thyroid, heart and kidney
  • Lead – lack of appetite, fatigue, iron deficiencies of the blood, convulsions, vision problems, high blood pressure, insomnia and hallucinations; note that children are more susceptible to these problems than adults are
  • Manganese – nerve damage, tremors and psychiatric problems.
  • Mercury – respiratory damage, pulmonary edema, skin discoloration, kidney damage, neurological problems, loss of memory and seizures
  • Thallium – drowsiness, abdominal pain, vomiting, hair loss and nerve damage
  • Lithium – diseases of the stomach, intestines, diarrhea and organ damage
  • Zinc – fever, gastrointestinal problems, and kidney and liver damage

Your Safest Course: Let a Qualified Precious Metals Refinery Test and Process Your Metals

It is easy to find videos online that show hobbyists and amateur refiners melting down all kinds of metals in their garages and basements. Meanwhile, they could be breathing in some very noxious fumes. Don’t do it. Your safest course of action is to call our qualified precious metals refiners at 800-426-2344 and ask us to test and evaluate your metal items. When you call, be sure to mention our blog and ask about free or discounted shipping on the items you send us for testing.

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Why Recycling Precious Metals Should Be Done by Professionals  
Why Letting Us Test Powdered Chemicals Can Offer You a Large Return and Ensure Your Safety