View Full Version : Is silver tarnish poisonous?

08-29-2001, 07:01 AM
We've got a bunch of mismatched silver-plated flatware that we use for every-day eating. We never polish them, so each piece is kind of dingy with some occasional heavily-tarnished spots. Last night my wife asks, "We're eating with these things every day. Is silver tarnish poisonous at all?"

My first response was, "Of course not. No one would make silverware out of silver if it were poisonous."

But... would they? Is silver tarnish completely harmless?

And, while we're at it, some of the flatware is worn enough to have spots where the silver plate is completely rubbed through and the base metal (and/or some underplating material?) is showing. Should I be concerned about putting this into my mouth?

08-29-2001, 08:36 AM
The material safety data sheet for silver sulfide says:
Absorption of silver compounds by ingestion, inhalation or through broken skin can cause argyreia, a permanent bluish-grey discoloration of the skin, conjunctiva and mucous membranes.
Apparently you need to be a silversmith, welder, miner or such for this to be a problem.
From another source:
Argyria is a permanent effect, but it appears to be a cosmetic problem that may not be otherwise harmful to health.
It doesn't seem that there is much to worry about here.

The base metal under the plating is usually not toxic either, although I did hear a few years ago that the government had inadvertantly sold some radioactive nickel to flatware manufacturers...

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