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. 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.
The toxicity of gold is due to the administration of gold-based therapy as part of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis, usually for several years. If side effects reoccur, then the individual is not suitable for gold therapy and should be avoided. In many cases, gold therapy is interrupted for a period of time so that the signs and symptoms of gold toxicity improve, and then treatment is resumed.