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Consumer Reports

Museum artifacts could pose health risk | (UPI) -- Some Native American artifacts, once in a museum but returned to a California tribe, could pose a health risk to those who handle them.

Too bad some people kept on talking.

Researchers analyzed 17 artifacts of the Hoopa tribe and found seven to be 1 percent mercury by weight. One weighed in with 16 percent mercury.

Other potentially dangerous substances, including the pesticide DDT, were found in addition to the mercury. Museums often use such chemicals to protect items from attack by pests. It is possible some pieces might have received several treatments of pesticides over time because they were kept in a museum for most of the last century.

Until there is a way to decontaminate artifacts without damaging them, they should not be worn, researchers warned, adding that museum workers who handle treated items could also be at risk.

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