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Korean J Occup Environ Med. 2006 Dec;18(4):339-344. Korean. Case Report. https://doi.org/10.35371/kjoem.2006.18.4.339
Tak KH , Yoon SH , Lee MY , Shin DH , Chung IS .
Department of occupational and environmental medicine, Dongsan Medical Center, Keimyung University College of Medicine, Taegu, Korea. ichungs@dsmc.or.kr
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Skin contact with, and the breathing in of air containing silver compounds can occur in the workplace. Occupational exposure to silver and its compounds is mainly via airborne dust, metal fumes, and mists of solutions containing silver compounds. Argyria results from increased serum silver levels and the deposition of silver-containing particles in the dermis and mucous membranes. The author reports a patient with generalized argyria, who worked on the manufacture of cellular phone cases. CASE REPORT: The patient was a 30 year-old male, with extensive blue-gray discoloration of the whole body, especially sun-exposed area, of 3 years duration. He had been exposed to silver in the processing of EMI for the past 4 years and gaskets for 1 year. EMI is the process by which the internal electromagnetic wave in cellular phone cases are shielded, and gaskets play an important role in shielding the electric clashes between electronic circuits, as well as increasing the durability of cellular phone cases to impact. EMI had been processed manually but this was changed to automatic spraying by robots in 2003. On physical examination, the patient had diffuse blue-gray discoloration of the skin, which was most prominent in the sun-exposed areas of his face, neck and V of the chest. Histopathological examination of a punch biopsy specimen from the posterior neck revealed fine, minute, round, and brown-black granules deposited in the basement membrane zone surrounding the eccrine glands. The laboratory findings were positive for hepatitis B antigen, with a serum silver concentration of 150.3 ppb. From this evidence, he was diagnosed with argyria due to silver exposure. DISCUSSION: The author reports a case of occupational systemic argyria due to inhalation exposure of silver compounds.

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