Silver itself is a byproduct of other mined metals, including copper, gold, lead, and zinc. Less than a third of the silver market comes from actual silver mines. Because mining those metals often results in arsenic, cyanide, and mercury pollution, silver is implicated in the source of a this chemical problem.
We become exposed to these chemicals for different reasons. Mercury is bonded to metal ore, and much of the mercury pollution in the U.S. comes from waste rock leftover after metal extraction. Arsenic and cadmium are also byproducts of the extraction process.
Cyanide, on the other hand, is actively used in extraction. Some of these compounds degrade naturally, but their byproducts can be even more harmful and persistent. It is a little difficult to compare amounts of these toxic pollutants because data from mining companies is hard to get, and it depends on how much cyanide is being used and how waste is handled in different places.
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