Gold mining is one of the most destructive industries in the world. It can displace communities, contaminate drinking water, harm workers and destroy pristine environments. It contaminates water and land with mercury and cyanide, endangering the health of people and ecosystems. Gold is omnipresent in the human environment and most people come into contact with it through the use of jewelry, dental devices, implants or treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.
Gold isn't a nutrient, but people are exposed to it as a food coloring and in food chains. This review analyzes the dangers faced by the personal and domestic use of gold and the much greater risks posed by occupational exposure to metal in the extraction and processing of gold ores. In the latter situation, regular manual contact or inhalation of toxic or carcinogenic materials such as mercury or arsenic, respectively, presents a much greater danger and greatly complicates the assessment of the toxicity of gold. The uses and risks presented by new technologies and the use of nanoparticulate gold in cancer therapies and diagnostic medicine constitute an important consideration in the toxicity of gold, in which tissue absorption and distribution are largely determined by particle size and surface characteristics.
Many human problems arise due to the ability of metallic gold to induce allergic contact hypersensitivity. While gold in jewelry can cause allergic reactions, other metals such as nickel, chromium and copper found in white gold or alloys present more serious clinical problems. It is concluded that the toxic risks associated with gold are low in relation to the wide range of possible routes of exposure to the metal in everyday life. The toxicity of gold compounds can develop in several of the organ systems.
Oral gold preparations may cause diarrhea. Allergy to gold can be manifested by skin rashes, itching and redness of the skin. Bone marrow suppression, a side effect that can cause anemia, bleeding problems, or infections, is relatively common during gold therapy. Kidney and liver damage is also relatively common, so the functions of these organs should be monitored when taking gold.
Any toxic reaction to gold requires discontinuation of treatment and may require medical treatment. With regard to mining, the convention obliges governments to promote methods of processing gold without mercury; take special measures to protect vulnerable populations from exposure, including children and women of childbearing age; and ending particularly harmful practices in gold processing, such as the burning of mercury and gold amalgam in residential areas. Artisanal, small-scale gold mining is a vital source of income, but it's also very dangerous because miners use toxic mercury to separate gold from ore. Colloidal gold is added to glass to color it red or purple, and metallic gold is applied as a thin film on the windows of a large building to reflect the heat of the sun's rays.
Gold is usually alloyed in jewelry to give it more strength, and the term carat describes the amount of gold present (24 carats is pure gold). On the one hand, gold helps to inhibit the immune system when it is overactive; on the other hand, it can cause an allergic reaction, which is an inappropriate immune response.