As far as obituaries go, it's not your everyday death notice: Paul Karason died Monday in a Washington hospital after suffering a heart attack, at age 62. Had his death occurred five years earlier it likely would have gone quietly unnoticed. But in 2008, Karason went on the Today show to talk to Matt Lauer about something most unusual: his blue skin. Karason says he started turning blue a decade and a half ago, the result of applying and ingesting silver. He was trying to treat dermatitis on his face and had used what the Christian Post describes as "a silver-based remedy" along with colloidal silver.
NBC News explains that the latter was something he drank, and describes it as a liquid Karason made himself that has silver particles suspended in it. He consumed 10 ounces a day, notes ABC News. It was outdated medicine, however: Though silver had been used as medicine for thousands of years, it was effectively replaced by penicillin in the 1930s, and was banned by the FDA because it causes argyria, in which silver amasses in the skin and organs and stays there. It causes the blue coloration. The Post notes that Karason was known by some children as "Papa Smurf," but bristled when adults used the term, according to his estranged wife. In addition to his troubled marriage, Karason fought prostate cancer and health problems, and struggled financially. He noted in a 2012 interview, "People are reluctant to hire blue people." (We last year reported the story of an entire Kentucky family that was blue-skinned.)