Hello! I have recently noticed on a retail website, (Kohl’s, if you want to...

Asked January 26, 2019, 3:42 PM EST

Hello! I have recently noticed on a retail website, (Kohl’s, if you want to look,) that they are selling various items of jewelry, including rings, that are plated with ruthenium. I had to look this up to learn about it. A very disturbing thing it seems to do is make toxic gas when it comes in contact with bleach. Yes, even plain household bleach. I wear sterling silver rings most of the time. I consider them sturdy and don’t take them off when doing laundry, often with bleach! Will people who don’t realize what their ring is plated with start falling victim to toxic clouds when laundering, cleaning bathrooms and kitchens, or disinfecting an earring that fell in the can pan? It sounds like an idea that was not thought through well at all! I haven’t seen mentioned what quantity of ruthenium has to mix with the bleach to pose a danger, but “toxic cloud” doesn’t sound like it would do anyone’s lungs any favors. Could you find out more about this, as well as how we might bring attention to it to protect people? Thank you very much. Jill

Franklin County Ohio

4 Responses

Hello and thank you for contacting OSU Extension with your question. We currently do not have anyone with this knowledge, but I am working to reach out to other departments/colleges within Ohio State University to find an answer for you.

I would appreciate your patience as I work to locate the information that you have requested about ruthenium and its reaction to bleach and other cleaning chemicals.

Kind regards,

Teresa Funk

Hello, and thank you for contacting me. Have any of the folks you reached out to about the effects of ruthenium coming into contact with bleach and/or other household products found a trail to follow to the answer? I wondered if they were going to have to do experiments themselves to find out what happens. However, it would seem a certainty that colleagues in their field(s) would share information with them, especially for the sake of health and safety. If any have responded, I would be interested in knowing what they say. I can understand that you might think it a bother to some peple to hear that kind of thing, but I would like knowing that they are searching.
Thank you, Jill

Hello! I meant to mention that I looked at the retail site after I sent the question in January, and rings were, and are still, the only items mentioned as being made with ruthenium. There had been earrings as well as other pieces, but not now. I find that odd, but have no real idea why it would be the case. I believe it was after Christmas when I first saw ruthenium mentioned. Also, in my note responding to you, I only meant that if someone had gotten back to you with something like, “Hey, we asked So-And-So at Such-A-Place and are waiting to hear back,” I would love to know even that. Thank you, again, Jill

Hello and thank you for your inquiry/question regarding the health effects of Ruthenium (a precious metal) in jewelry, especially rings being sold at Kohl's.

OSU Extension does not have this expertise and I've exhausted by ideas of checking with other areas/departments within Ohio State University with no luck.

Perhaps you can check with your local health department, but I it is highly unlikely they'll have anything. You could also check with your personal physician.

My regrets that I was unsuccessful in fining an answer for you.