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In the 19th Century, people who made hats (hatters or milliners) started to develop mysterious symptoms. They became shy, paranoid and irritable; they shook and drooled, and their teeth and gums became inflamed. Together this cluster of symptoms was known as Mad Hatter’s Disease, and this is thought to be behind the Mad Hatter’s strange behaviour in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It was some time before the mercury they used to make felt was found to be the culprit. Through this case study we explore how forensic toxicologists get involved in the workplace, and learn about the different forms of mercury that can cause different types of poisoning. Despite our best efforts to get rid of mercury from thermometers and other devices, poisonings still happen and land on forensic toxicologists’ desks. Other poisonings arise from mercury’s association with magic and spirituality, or attempts to improve sexual prowess. Stranger still are the mercury poisonings inspired by comic book characters.

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