About Thallium & Toxicity
Thallium and its compounds are often highly toxic. Contact with skin is dangerous, and adequate ventilation should be provided when melting this metal. Many thallium(I) compounds are highly soluble in water and are readily absorbed through the skin. Exposure to them should not exceed 0.1 mg per m2 of skin in an 8-hour time-weighted average (40-hour work week). Thallium is a suspected human carcinogen.
Part of the reason for thallium’s high toxicity is that, when present in aqueous solution as the univalent thallium(I) ion (Tl+), it exhibits some similarities with essential alkali metal cations, particularly potassium (due to similar atomic radii). It can thus enter the body via potassium uptake pathways. Other aspects of thallium’s chemistrydiffer strongly from that of the alkali metals, such its high affinity for sulfur ligands. Thus this substitution disrupts many cellular processes (for instance, thallium may attack sulfur-containing proteins such as cysteine residues and ferredoxins). Thallium’s toxicity has led to its use (now discontinued in many countries) as a rat and ant poison.
Among the distinctive effects of thallium poisoning are loss of hair (which led to its initial use as a depilatory before its toxicity was properly appreciated) and damage to peripheral nerves (victims may experience a sensation of walking on hot coals), although the loss of hair only generally occurs in low doses; in high doses the thallium kills before this can take effect. Thallium was once an effective murder weapon before its effects became understood, and an antidote (Prussian blue) discovered. Indeed, thallium poisoning has been called the “poisoner’s poison” since thallium is colorless, odorless and tasteless; its slow-acting, painful and wide-ranging symptoms are often suggestive of a host of other illnesses and conditions.
Detection of Thallium
API’s Food Poison Detection Kit includes everything one needs to conduct a complete analysis of food for all the most notorious poisons, document the results and preserve any evidence. This Kit was developed under a research grant with the U.S. Department of Defense and has been validated by multiple parties.
Detector for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Thallium, all materials for sample preparation and built-in Quality Assurance. This Kit includes full color instructions.
Our GHM-01 Detector for Common Heavy Metals rapidly and easily detects and identifies common heavy metals includiing Thallium. A simple color change alerts the user if Heavy Metals are present. This cheap and easy-to-use method can be purchased directly from our webpage linked above.
The EYAL™ DD-04L Reader allows for fast, quantitative determination of Lead in solution using the QuantTab™ Lead Determination Card. Using the provided software, sample concentrations can be tracked and monitored over time.