Goldsmiths work with a variety of metals, with many having an effect on the human body. These metals include gold, copper, silver, zinc, iron, steel, platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, titanium, niobium, aluminum, nickel, lead, mercury, chromium, selenium, cadmium, arsenic, antimony, manganese, and beryllium. Alloys, which are a combination of metals, are also used in goldsmithing.
An example of an alloy is brass, containing up to 35% zinc with the remaining being copper. The dust, salts, and oxides of these metals can be hazardous to the human body and should be handled with caution. It is best to avoid having nickel, lead, mercury, chromium, selenium, cadmium, arsenic, antimony, manganese, and beryllium in the goldsmithing workshop as these metals can pose a serious health risk.
Exposure To Metals During Jewelry Casting
By coming into contact with metals, we are able to experience and witness a range of physical and chemical reactions. The most common way we come into contact with and handle metals is through compounds such as salts and oxides. We can also observe chemical and physical reactions through patinas, cleaning, pickling, and enameling. Heat is also an important element in reacting with metals. When we solder, anneal, or melt them, the chemical and physical reactions are accelerated, and reactions that don’t occur at room temperature can be seen. Heat can also have an effect on the properties of metals, making them harder or softer, or changing their color or texture. All of these reactions are essential to our understanding and use of metals in jewelry making.
It is essential to understand the effects of metal exposure on our bodies in order to maintain optimal health. Certain levels of exposure to metals can be beneficial, but too much can be detrimental. In order for us to stay within a healthy range, we need to know the “concentration windows” of metals in order to avoid overexposure. If we are exposed to too many metals, there is a potential for interactions to occur which can cause more harm than if we were exposed to a single metal. One example is the interaction of cadmium and zinc or the displacement of calcium in the body due to lead exposure which can harm the nervous system. Therefore, it is important to keep track of our exposure to metals in order to ensure our health is not compromised.
Consuming metals in the form of supplements can be hazardous; there have been numerous instances of chrome poisoning resulting from this. It is essential to be aware of what you are taking in deliberately. There have been cases where individuals have overdosed on metals and it has caused severe health problems. It is important to take caution and monitor your intake of metals to ensure that you are not putting your health at risk. Doing research on the effects of metals when taken as supplements and consulting your physician before taking any kind of supplement is the best way to prevent any kind of poisoning. Be aware of the potential consequences of self-dosing with metals, and make sure that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your health.
Allergies To Certain Jewelry Metals
Once more, you may be exposed to metals by coming into physical contact with them, by breathing in or ingesting their oxides, salts, dust, and their fumes at elevated temperatures. Metal fume fever is a serious health risk in the presence of molten metals. Zinc, copper, magnesium, aluminum, antimony, cadmium, iron, and silver are all materials that can potentially cause this condition.
A study was recently conducted featuring nearly one thousand metal-intolerant patients. Each individual was patch-tested with nickel sulfate and given metal washers to wear as a necklace. The results of this experiment indicated that 63% reacted to the nickel sulfate, 50% to the nickel washer, 8% to the nickel-palladium washer, 13% to the copper washer, 7% to the brass washer, 4% to the bronze or palladium washers, 2% to gold, and none to iron. This suggests that iron might be the best choice for metal jewelry in terms of metal tolerance, which could be good news for blacksmiths. Furthermore, it has been observed that wearing cosmetics can amplify the effects of metal on the skin, so caution should be exercised when doing so.
When it comes to the worst metals to have in your vicinity, cadmium, nickel, chromium, antimony, arsenic, and beryllium are some of the most hazardous. These metals, either in their pure form or in alloys and salts, can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Cadmium is a toxic metal that can be found in batteries, pigments, and plastics. Nickel, which can be found in jewelry, coins, and utensils, is also a very hazardous metal. Chromium, which is used in dyes and paints, is known to cause allergic reactions and can be very damaging to the respiratory system. Antimony, which is used in some plastics and alloys, is a toxic metal that can cause severe skin irritation and difficulty breathing. Arsenic is a poisonous metal that can be found in some paints, dyes, and fertilizers and can cause a variety of severe health problems. Finally, beryllium, which is used in alloys and found naturally in rocks and soil, is a highly toxic metal that can cause serious respiratory issues and even cancer.
Clearly, these metals should be handled with extreme caution and avoided whenever possible. If you are working with any of these metals, be sure to wear protective clothing and follow all safety instructions. Additionally, if you believe you may have been exposed to any of these metals, seek medical attention immediately.
Using Aluminum In Jewelry Making
Reexamining the idea that aluminum may cause Alzheimer’s disease, the body does not absorb aluminum easily, and the skin, lungs, and gut all act as barriers to absorption. Although high levels of aluminum powder and dust can cause a type of lung disease, there is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that aluminum is a factor in Alzheimer’s. North American specialists deem European bans on aluminum cookware to be premature, with the notion that if one has Alzheimer’s, they may accumulate aluminum in the brain more so than someone who does not. Thus, it is possible that the aluminum is present due to the condition, rather than causing it.
Metal fumes can cause metal fume fever, a health hazard for those working in the smelting of aluminum. In order to prevent this from occurring, proper ventilation is essential. When aluminum is melted, it releases metal particles and gases into the air. Without adequate ventilation, these particles and gases can be inhaled and cause metal fume fever. Symptoms of this condition include flu-like symptoms such as chest pain, fever, and coughing. In some cases, it can lead to chemical pneumonia. It is important to provide good ventilation in any environment where aluminum is being melted in order to prevent the risk of metal fume fever and chemical pneumonia.
Using Chromium In Jewelry Making
The dangers of chromium are evident all around us. Its presence can be found in a variety of plating solutions, metals, and stainless steels. Whenever possible, people should try to avoid any contact with chromium or its salts, such as those found in chromium plating. Furthermore, those who work with chromium-containing alloys are at risk of developing occupational asthma and other health complications. In fact, studies have shown that workers who are exposed to chromium-containing compounds like chromates have a death rate from lung cancer that can be as high as 22%, making them 30 times more likely to suffer from this condition than the general population.
Using Lead In Jewelry Making
Lead is an incredibly hazardous material that should be handled with extreme caution. It is important to wear protective gear such as latex or vinyl gloves when coming into contact with lead and to never heat the material, as this can cause dangerous fumes. Ingestion and absorption through the skin are also possible, so it is important to keep lead blocks in a glove or other covering. The primary dangers associated with lead are dust and fumes, though it can also cause a number of health problems if it is ingested or absorbed through the skin. Everyone should do their utmost to avoid lead in the workplace, including avoiding leaded enamels, rubber molding compounds, and paints. When handling lead, it is important to remember that taking the necessary precautions can help to reduce the risks associated with this hazardous material.
Using Other Metals To Make Jewelry
Goldsmiths and jewelers use an array of materials in their work, such as gems, minerals, glasses, ceramics, plastics, polymer clays, organic materials like wood, bone, shells, pearls, synthetic and natural resins, and more. Each material carries potential dangers, so it is important to assess your specific usage. Organic materials may cause biological dangers, such as Anthrax with bones and wool, glucose replacement in the blood, and lung damage with abalone, as well as dermatitis and allergy issues, and particulate hazards like cotton dust.
If you’re considering making jewelry, it’s good to be aware of the dangers and allergens it can cause so you can use the right precautions.