In 1996, Professor Karen Wetterhahn, an organometallic chemist(1) at Dartmouth College, was running an experiment that required the use of a chemical called dimethylmercury, a colorless, volatile, sweet-smelling liquid(2). She was using all proper safety precautions — protective clothing, gloves, and most important, a negative pressure fume hood(3). During the transfer, Wetterhahn spilled one or two drops of the liquid on the back of one of her latex gloves(4).
After five months, she began to display symptoms of severe neurological impairment, and was hospitalized. Three weeks later she slipped into a coma. Five months later she was dead from mercury poisoning. There was nothing that could be done to save her life, including chelation therapy(5).