High purity thallium element 81 sample of 3-4 mm in sealed ampoule and vial with label.
Thallium is a rare, toxic, and highly reactive element. It is mainly used in photocells, infrared detectors and low-melting glass.
It is also widely used in electro-technical and chemical applications. A thallium poisoning can cause damage to the nervous system, vomiting, diarrhea, temporary hair loss, and impediments to the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys.
Once sourced from smelting other metals, it is now only found in very small quantities throughout the world. It is a tasteless, odorless, and water-soluble element that can be absorbed through skin contact or inhalation.
Acute exposure to thallium is dangerous for workers and the general public. Occupational safety regulations limit the exposure to 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter of skin for no more than eight hours a day.
When ingested, thallium causes irritation of the stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. It is also toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The neurological symptoms can be severe and life-threatening.
Treatment of thallium toxicity requires an interprofessional team. Activated charcoal and Prussian blue are commonly used to treat gastrointestinal ingestion, but other treatments may be necessary depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.
Symptoms typically develop within four to 48 hours of exposure. During this period, thallium moves from the intravascular circulation to the central nervous system. This process leads to a variety of symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, trembling, and paralysis. These symptoms may continue for 30 days or more after exposure.