Silver is a soft, white element with a wide range of industrial uses. It possesses the highest electrical and thermal conductivity and reflectivity of any metal. These qualities make silver and its various compounds staples in many industries and products. However, because of silver’s array of uses, exposure and subsequent silver poisoning is common in some fields. Additionally, many researchers believe certain silver compounds and solutions are innately more toxic and harmful to humans than other forms of the metal.
Under average conditions, it is difficult for a person to build up a significant amount of silver in their body. However, some occupations require daily exposure to silver compounds. Ingestion is the primary method of exposure leading to silver poisoning. Typically, this is the result of a worker inhaling silver dust or fumes from an occupational setting. In some cases, people develop silver poisoning from direct skin contact. This is usually due to the presence of silver in burn creams, or from consistent contact with jewelry. Other methods of exposure include accidental puncture wounds, dental amalgams, and acupuncture needles.
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