A haunting picture has emerged of the final moments of a seven-year-old boy who died after playing in a pile of limestone powder.
Arthur Emanuel Bitencourt, from Brazil, died just minutes after the photo was taken on August 3.
In the tragic image, he was seen giving a double thumbs-up to the camera as he played in a heap of limestone powder, a common material used in construction that was left on the side of the road.
Arthur was rushed to hospital, where it was revealed he had inhaled particles of the toxic dust. He was pronounced dead on arrival.
The young boy’s heartbroken family shared the image as a warning to others about the dangers of limestone powder.
Romaldo Bitencourt, Arthur’s uncle, shared the tragic photo on Facebook and wrote: “The memories I will have of you, my dear child, will always be the best.”
Arthur jumped into the poisonous material near his family’s property in Ipiranga, Parana, in the south of Brazil, according to local news outlet Jornal Razao.
His family claimed they were unaware of the dangers posed by the powder.
“Our gratitude to God for putting Arthur in our life, a treasure who stayed with us for seven years, one month and ten days,” his uncle said in a separate post.
“Life is like a moving train, but our dear and beloved son, brother, nephew, cousin, grandson, went down still in the beginning of the journey.”
Tributes poured in for the seven-year-old after his sad passing. A friend of Arthur’s mother said: “May God comfort the heart of the whole family right now, you will forever be in our hearts Arthur!”
“Yesterday was a day of great joy, which will be forever marked in Luiz’s heart, and today God wanted you close to him!” she wrote, alongside an image of the child enjoying a birthday party.
Limestone powder is often used in construction to manufacture materials including bricks, cement and concrete.
It can also be used by farmers to treat their soil and increase crop yields. A large tractor could be seen in the background of the photograph of Arthur playing in the dust.
Safety standards in most countries require limestone powder to be handled only by workers wearing gloves, goggles and protective clothing.
Inhaling the toxic dust can cause severe lung problems, while exposure can also cause skin irritation and eye damage. Prolonged exposure to limestone powder has been shown to cause cancer.
Symptoms of harmful exposure to the dust include decreased lung function, dyspnoea and persistent coughing.
Arthur was buried the day after he launched himself into the heap of powder. Police launched an investigation into his death.