Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Researcher Dies 10 Months after Mercury Poisoning

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Researcher Dies 10 Months after Mercury Poisoning

Article excerpt

A Dartmouth College scientist whose specialty was the dangers of heavy metals died of mercury poisoning this week, 10 months after as little as a drop of a rare toxic compound apparently seeped through her rubber gloves.

Karen Wetterhahn, 48, had been hospitalized since January, when tests showed 80 times the lethal dose of mercury in her blood, a college investigation showed. After she was diagnosed Jan. 28, Wetterhahn told investigators that she remembered spilling one to several drops of dimethylmercury in August, John S. Winn, chairman of the Chemistry Department, said Tuesday.

After the diagnosis, Winn said, Wetterhahn's attitude seemed to be: "I know what it is; I know what to do about it. I'm in a good place. I'm getting good care. Let's get on with it." Three weeks after she was diagnosed, she went into a coma that lasted until her death Sunday at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Wetterhahn, a cancer researcher, was using the compound to examine the effects of toxic metals on human cells. …

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