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Stories throughout this site are shared for the primary purpose of showing things go wrong in research facilities. It’s important to stay knowledgeable on safety requirements and precautions. If you ever have any questions, please contact us.
“World-renowned chemist Karen Wetterhahn died after receiving a toxic dose of dimethylmercury, even though she was following proper safety precautions. Chemical toxicity is measured using a number called the median lethal dose (LD50), which describes the dosage required to kill half of a tested population. The LD50 of dimethylmercury (PDF) is 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, which means a 130-pound woman (59 kg) could be killed by about 3 mg of the substance. Wetterhahn accidentally got a few drops of dimethylmercury on her glove-covered hand. But, the glove provided no protection. The chemical seeped through, touched her skin and entered her body. A few months later, she began to experience symptoms of mercury poisoning, such as trouble with balance, as well as impaired speech, vision and hearing. She then slipped into a coma and died, becoming the fourth laboratory victim of dimethylmercury” – Taken directly from Real Clear Science