Thallium is a heavy toxic metallic compound odorless, tasteless, and deposited in the water components with ease. It’s distributed throughout the earth’s crust but is available at a very low concentration. This compound was discovered by Sir William Crook in 1961 and is asserted to be harmful to humans.

Thallium Poisoning is caused due to thallium, and its neighboring compounds, which are toxic, and one should avoid melting such harmful substances because its inhalation leads to health issues. It erupts the skin and spreads rapidly all over the human body.

It’s similar to lead poisoning, and symptoms are observed after several years of exposure and not during the preliminary stages. The building block of thallium toxicity starts from the baseline and builds up to a huge level. This poisonous metallic compound is easily absorbed through GIT, skin, and respiratory system. It’s also considered similar to some of the alkali metals.

Toxic Compounds of Thallium

The toxic compounds that together make the compound thallium are sulfate, chloride, nitrate, acetate, iodide, and carbonate.

Causes of Thallium Poisoning

The industrial wastes released from the factories consist of harmful metallic compounds such as arsenic and thallium, consumed by the fishes and other living organisms residing in the river water. These fishes are consumed by humans, which hampers their health. It’s also sold illegally and is mixed with drugs such as cocaine, heroin, etc. The other set of causes include accidental exposure.

Signs and Symptoms of Thallium Poisoning

  • The initial symptoms of Thallium Poisoning include feelings of pain and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to abdominal pain and vomiting.
  • Severe headache, tiredness, difficulty in vision.
  • Individual suffering from thallium poisoning suffers from a mental health condition such as depression and schizophrenia
  • Weight loss, Skin Eruptions and Diarrhoea are the major symptoms associated with thallium toxicity.
  • Diplopia, significant hair fall are major dermatologic visions experienced in thallium poisoning.
  • Mee Lines is caused both due to arsenic and thallium ( a significant disease in which the color of the nail changes and lacks physical nail edges )
  • Greenish Urine, Kidney Diseases such as hepatic or renal failure, and Encephalopathy.
  • Rashes on the skin are observed, which leads to acneiform outbreaks periodically.

Diagnosis of Thallium Poisoning

  • Blood tests are conducted to measure the eosinophilic levels.
  • Optic nerves are observed for significant nerve changes or abnormalities.
  • Dark pigments of hair are observed through the microscopic examination of hair.
  • ECG is implemented for constantly checking heart conditions.
  • Opacities are observed in the living liver and gastrointestinal tract.

Treatment of Thallium Poisoning

  • An excessive amount of thallium is removed from the stomach using Prussian Blue via the precipitation method. 
  • Activated Charcoal is used for removing the thallium from the body.
  • Oral Hygiene needs to be maintained and one should avoid consuming packaged food products.
  • The Head is shaved in severe cases where individuals suffer from excessive hair fall.
  • Physiotherapists advise the patients to perform certain physical activities which would prevent the muscles from extreme contractions.

Medico-Legal Importance of Thallium Poisoning

  • Suicidal cases are rare in thallium poisoning.
  • It’s banned in most US countries because a lot of illegal transportation of thallium occurs.
  • People in western countries use thallium for Homicidal purposes.
  • People who work in industrial factories easily get affected due to thallium which is asserted as accident exposure.


Scientists state that thallium and other toxic heavy metallic compounds should be kept far away from human contact. The government should ask industrial factories to release these compounds with proper purification not to leave a harmful impact on our surroundings.

It should be either used at a minimum concentration or should be completely banned for all sorts of industrial usage.

Categories: Toxicology


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