Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

Thallium
Identification Number: CASRN | 7440-28-0

  Substance Attributes


  • 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.

  • Serious Acute Effects

    This is a serious nasty substance. Effects are Acute (seen immediately). Substances in this category may be FATAL or acutely toxic if inhaled, skin contact or swallowed. See further details.

  • Toxic to specific organs

    Can damage liver, kidney, lungs, heart or gut. Ironically liver, kidneys and gut are the main detoxifications systems.

  • Toxic to Wildlife

    May kill plants, fish, birds or other animals and insects or may be very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. This then effects delicate environmental ecology and food supply in ways we don't fully understand yet.

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



  • CATEGORIES: Chemicals detected in flowback and produced water - collectively referred to as - hydraulic fracturing wastewater | Industrial/Workplace Toxin | Pollutant | Airborne Pollutant | Synthetic Toxin | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Inorganic Compounds | Homogeneous Metal Compounds | Homogeneous Post-transition Metal Compounds | | Homogeneous post-transition metal compounds
  • SYNONYMS: 81Tl | Talio | Tl
  • DESCRIPTION: Has been used in CSG, Hydraulic Fracturing Operations (Fracking) as - Unknown | Thallium is a chemical element with symbol Tl and atomic number 81. This soft gray post-transition metal is not found free in nature. When isolated, it resembles tin, but discolors when exposed to air. Thallium tends to oxidize to the +3 and +1 oxidation states as ionic salts. The +3 state resembles that of the other elements in thallium's group (boron, aluminum, gallium, indium). However, the +1 state, which is far more prominent in thallium than the elements above it, recalls the chemistry of alkali metals, and thallium(I) ions are found geologically mostly in potassium-based ores, and (when ingested) are handled in many ways like potassium ions (K+) by ion pumps in living cells. Thallium and its compounds are extremely toxic, and should be handled with great care. There are numerous recorded cases of fatal thallium poisoning. Contact with skin is dangerous, and adequate ventilation should be provided when melting this metal.
  • COMMENTS:

    From Safe Work Australia and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) in Australia:

    Fatal if inhaled. Fatal if swallowed. May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure . May cause long lasting harmful effects to aquatic life | Chronic Health Hazard Acutely Toxic | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace. Check with your employer or health and safety officer. Stay informed and become aware of the dangers that surround you. This chemical is included on the list of recognised hazardous chemicals from the Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) that is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

    Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations are the basis for hazardous chemicals regulations in Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia. Under the model WHS Regulations, manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles supplied for use in workplaces are required to determine whether they are hazardous to health and safety before supply. The model WHS Regulations mandate that the hazards of a chemical as determined by the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) must be included in safety data sheets and on labels. There are transitional arrangements in place for moving to the GHS-based system.

    The GHS Hazardous Chemical Information List contains chemicals classified by an authoritative source (such as the European Commission or NICNAS) in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS). This list contains the vast majority of chemicals currently in HSIS. This list and its detail are regularly updated by Work Safe Australia. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations require chemicals to be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). However transitional arrangements allow use of classification information in HSIS derived from the Approved Criteria until the 31 December 2016.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: Tl
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: T3DB | PubChem | EPA in USA | Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

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

  • SYMPTOMS: Nausea and vomiting; painful peripheral neuropathy; alopecia. (L2148)
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: 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. (Wikipedia) Thallium toxicity is complex and severe. It affects several systems in human body, including liver, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, reproductive, renal, and nervous systems. Among them, liver is an important organ which possibly assists metabolic reduction of metals; hence, it could be a noticeable organ for thallium toxicity. This is confirmed by the other study on thallium-induced toxicity in experimental animals which reported highest accumulation in liver, kidney, and ileum. (A15464) | Thallium is rapidly distributed throughout all tissues of the body. Most thallium is excreted by the faecal route but up to 35% may be excreted by the kidneys. (L2148)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: Thallium(I) compounds have a high aqueous solubility and are readily absorbed through the skin. 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 chemistry differ 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). (Wikipedia) A 2013 study found evidence that the thallium(I)-induced liver toxicity is a result of the disruptive effect of this metal on the mitochondrial respiratory complexes (I, II, and IV), which are the obvious causes of metal-induced reactive oxygen species formation and ATP depletion. The latter two events, in turn, trigger cell death signaling via opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pore and cytochrome c expulsion. (A15464) |
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Thallium(I) ions are found geologically mostly in potassium-based ores. Commercially, however, thallium is produced not from potassium ores, but as a byproduct from refining of heavy metal sulfide ores. Approximately 60–70% of thallium production is used in the electronics industry, and the remainder is used in the pharmaceutical industry and in glass manufacturing. It is also used in infrared detectors. The radioisotope thallium-201 (as the soluble chloride TlCl) is used in small, nontoxic amounts as an agent in a nuclear medicine scan, during one type of nuclear cardiac stress test. Soluble thallium salts were historically used in rat poisons and insecticides. Because of its historic popularity as a murder weapon, thallium has gained notoriety as "the poisoner's poison" and "inheritance powder" (alongside arsenic). (Wikipedia)

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  Exposure Routes

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