Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Toxicity of metal salts

9CWAI - 5-1-2022 at 21:42

Can anyone rank the dermal toxicity of the toxic elements? Irritation/burns are one thing, but what chemicals are like organic Mercury or any Thallium in that you will get poisoned if you treat aqueous solutions too lightly?

[Edited on 6-1-2022 by 9CWAI]

B(a)P - 6-1-2022 at 00:46

Surely you have an element in mind? Also ranking has its issues because each metal has its own toxicity issues check out ATSDR.

9CWAI - 6-1-2022 at 06:28

I am trying to get a feel of where my limits should be set, something being really bad if consumed is really not a concern for me. I am way more worried about dermal exposure, volatility, and energetic properties. Cadmium is really bad if you eat it but it has negligible dermal absorption so I am fine as long as I wear gloves. Thallium is very bad dermally so I will not experiment with it. I wanna know where to draw boundries, i am not horribly afraid of minor burns, irritation, or minor allergies though.

Texium - 6-1-2022 at 08:03

As B(a)p said, ranking is subjective because there are many types and routes of toxicity. This is something you have already acknowledged yourself, in contrasting dermal vs oral toxicity. I would not be comfortable giving you a ranking to help you set your limits, because I don’t know what your capabilities are. I wouldn’t want to tell you hexavalent chromium salts are fine to work with as long as you wear gloves and work in a well ventilated area, only to have it turn out that your definition of well ventilated is different from mine, and you end up poisoning yourself.

I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by focusing only on dermal exposure, too. Oral exposure does not only apply to “eating” the metal. When you’re working with metal salts you have to consider exposure to dust when you manipulate the dry powders, and aerosols when you boil their solutions. Those are direct exposure routes that wearing gloves will not protect you against. Even if you were to wear a respirator to protect yourself, you’d still be depositing trace amounts of heavy metals throughout your work space. Try boiling a solution containing permanganate or an organic dye on your bench for an hour or two, then wipe up your bench with a damp paper towel, and you’ll see what I mean.

Basically, this isn’t the question you should be asking. Just focus on trying things that interest you. If an experiment comes up that uses something toxic and unfamiliar, then that’s the time to ask about it and determine if you want to proceed.

9CWAI - 6-1-2022 at 14:15

I've tried cadmium from batteries on a black surface while heating to dissolve it, I definitely understand the splatter issue. I am really asking if there is some rule of thumb to see if something has dermal toxicity, I am already going to avoid fine dust and volatile compounds. I am asking because I have a massive project of trying to get the properties of metal salts of various common or easily made ions. I want a general rule so I can comb through and cross those out. I don't wanna waste my time figuring out if every carbonyl salt is too toxic for my level when there could be an equation or rule that will tell me easily.