Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

Identification Number: CASRN | 7440-29-1

Toxicological Profile for Thorium from the ATSDR

  Substance Attributes

  • Known Human Carcinogen

    This is a serious nasty substance. Exposure to this substance leads to cancer in Humans. Exercise extreme caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and very seriously consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.

    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

  • Exposure Produces Health Symptoms

    Symptoms maybe short term or long term depending on the exposure duration and intensity and effects areas like Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Cognition, Fatigue. A substance with this attribute may cause an allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation, allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.

These attributes are ONLY based on peer-reviewed evidence. See link to Data Sources below. Everyone benefits from knowing this stuff. Please Share.

  • CATEGORIES: Industrial/Workplace Toxin | Pollutant | Airborne Pollutant | Food Toxin | Natural Toxin
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Inorganic Compounds | Homogeneous Metal Compounds | Homogeneous Actinide Compounds | | Homogeneous Actinide Compounds
  • SYNONYMS: 232Th | 90Th | Thorium 232 | Thorium | isotope of mass 232 | Thorium-232
  • DESCRIPTION: Thorium is a natural radioactive chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. In nature, virtually all thorium is found as thorium-232, and it decays by emitting an alpha particle, and has a half-life of about 14.05 billion years (other, trace-level isotopes of thorium are short-lived intermediates of decay chains). It is estimated to be about four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth's crust and is a by-product of the extraction of rare earths from monazite sands. -- Wikipedia.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS: Exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation results in acute radiation syndrome, which can cause skin burns, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, disorientation, low blood pressure, headache, fatigue, weakness, fever, birth defects, illness, infection, and death. (L1837, L1852)
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: Lungs and other internal organs can be penetrated by the alpha radiation produced by thorium. As a result, exposure to an aerosol of thorium can lead to increased risk of cancers of the lung, pancreas and blood. Exposure to thorium internally leads to increased risk of liver diseases. (L1094) | Exposure to thorium can occur following inhalation, ingestion, or dermal exposure. Once in the body thorium accumulates mainly in the liver, spleen, lymph nodes, lungs, and bone. Transferrin plays a major role in the transport and cellular uptake of thorium. Thorium may combine with oxygen to form thorotrast (thorium dioxide), a colloid which may affect protein uptake. Thorium and thorotrast are excreted mainly in the faeces. (L1838)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: The ionizing radiation produced by thorium causes cellular damage that includes DNA breakage, accurate or inaccurate repair, apoptosis, gene mutations, chromosomal change, and genetic instability. This leads to loss of normal cell and tissue homeostasis, and development of malignancy. Ionizing radiation that does not directly damage DNA can produce reactive oxygen intermediates that directly affect the stability of p53, an important enzyme in cell-cycle regulation, and produce oxidative damage to individual bases in DNA and point mutations by mispairing during DNA replication. (L1837) | The ionizing radiation produced by thorium causes cellular damage that includes DNA breakage, accurate or inaccurate repair, apoptosis, gene mutations, chromosomal change, and genetic instability. This leads to loss of normal cell and tissue homeostasis, and development of malignancy. (L1837)
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Thorium can also be used as a fuel for generating nuclear energy. Thorium is used as an alloying element in magnesium, used in aircraft engines, imparting high strength and creep resistance at elevated temperatures. Thorium is also used as an alloying agent in gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) to increase the melting temperature of tungsten electrodes and improve arc stability. Thorium is used to coat tungsten wire used in electronic equipment, improving the electron emission of heated cathodes. Thorium is used as a fertile material for producing nuclear fuel. Thorium is a very effective radiation shield, although it has not been used for this purpose as much as lead or depleted uranium. Uranium-thorium age dating has been used to date hominid fossils. (L1094)

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  Exposure Routes

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