What Is Thallium Metal?
Thallium is a bluish-white hued metal found in trace amounts throughout the Earth’s crust. In its purest state thallium is both tasteless and odorless, and was once sourced from smelting other metals. Presently our sources of thallium rely on naturally occurring deposits. Thallium uses today commonly include the production of electronic devices, fiber optics, camera lenses, switches, and closures. Thallium metal is used most notably by the semiconductor, fiber optic, and the glass lens industries. Unfortunately, exposure to thallium metal is harmful to those working closely with the metal. When thallium enters the atmosphere, traces of the substance remain after its use in coal-burning and smelting. Thallium metals are detected in the air, water, and soil long after exposure.
Thallium Uses in Everyday Life
It’s surprising how the context of thallium usage has changed over the decades. Historically thallium was leveraged as an insecticide and rodenticide against rats and squirrels. Thallium was also used in the treatment of malaria, ringworm of the scalp, tuberculosis, typhus, and venereal diseases. Our use of thallium curtailed in the wake of its toxicity.
In the sphere of the fiber optic and glass lens industries, thallium serves as a dopant within the lenses to hasten received signals. Common applications of thallium include, but are not limited to:
- Acousto-optic laser equipment
- A catalyst for organic reactions
- HIgh-temperature superconductors
- Detection of gamma radiation
- Specialized temperature-extreme glasses
- Low-temperature thermometers
- Infrared light-sensitive photocells
- Mercury lamps
Thallium Poisoning Symptoms
Thallium poisoning foments adverse effects on the nervous system and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, temporary hair loss, and impediments to the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. In some instances, thallium poisoning leads to death. Thallium is readily absorbed through the skin, respiration, and the digestive tract. Common exposure to thallium stems from rat poison. Pay attention to any stomach pain or discomfort after coming into contact with common rat poisons– stomachaches may mark the onset of thallium poisoning.
Concurrently, suffering thallium exposure from rat poison will damage the central nervous system. Survivors of thallium poisoning may endure continued complications within the nervous system, appearing as involuntary trembling, paralysis, and behavioral changes. Lesser symptoms of cumulative thallium poisoning over a long period of time include fatigue, headaches, depression, lessened appetite, leg pains, and impaired vision.
Acute instances of thallium poisoning include hallucinations, lethargy, delirium, convulsions, coma, and Grierson-Gopalan syndrome (or burning feet syndrome)– where the feet are afflicted from severe burning and aching.
Common Means of Thallium Exposure
- Smoking cigarettes
- Consuming contaminated foods
- Workplace environments utilizing thallium
- Residing near waste sites disposing of thallium
- Exposure to contaminated soil (children especially)
- Breathing in minute traces
- Drinking contaminated water
Buy Thallium Metal from Noah Chemicals
Noah Chemicals is committed to providing quality inorganic and specialty chemicals for bulk ordering. Our on-call chemists are available to answer any questions you may have for special ordering and general questions. We also offer custom manufacturing.