Toxic and Radioactive Gems: Safety Tips

Know What You’re Working With

It may seem obvious, but understanding the safety hazards of the gem that you’re handling is essential to finding the right tools to keep yourself safe. Learn the signs of acute and chronic exposure to these hazards. If you experience any symptoms, call for emergency services.

This gemstone toxicity table has information on several toxic and radioactive gems.

An Introduction to Toxicity

Toxicity is simply the ability of a material to damage an organ. Toxicity may arise from chemical reactions, physical reactions, or biological infection. Furthermore, each material can have one or more toxic attributes. Understanding the types of toxicity and toxicity pathways will help you stay safe.


For most people, chemical toxicity is the most familiar type of toxicity. This includes toxicity related to lead, mercury, and copper, for example. These materials are toxic because they react chemically with one or more organs. Exposure pathways include inhalation, ingestion, dermal contact, and mucous membrane contact.


Radioactivity is a type of chemical reaction which doesn’t require direct contact with the material. Exposure to excessive radiation can cause radiation sickness, and special precautions are required to avoid exposure while working with radioactive gems.


Premium Article

This is a Premium Article. Please become a member to read this entire article and gain access to hundreds more like it.

Membership options

Full Article Details

Content Length 2238 words
Reading time 11 min 11 sec

Here's what you get if you unlock this article:

  • Know What You’re Working With
  • An Introduction to Toxicity
    • Chemical
    • Radioactive
    • Physical
    • Biological
    • Exposure Pathways
    • Acute and Chronic Toxicity
  • Mining Toxic and Radioactive Gems
  • Safety Equipment for Cutting Toxic and Radioactive Gems
    • Cleanup and Disposal
    • Additional Concerns for At-Home Workshops
  • Storing Toxic and Radioactive Gems
  • Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Toxicity
    • Aluminum
    • Antimony
    • Arsenic
    • Borate
    • Cadmium
    • Chromium
    • Copper
    • Iron
    • Lead
    • Mercury
    • Nickel
    • Radioactive Materials
  • Summary

Plus, additional member-only benefits:

  • Exclusive access to other premium articles and courses
  • Unlimited access to our gem pricing guide
  • Participate in our member-only forums
Membership options