10 Interesting Facts about Thallium

One of these following facts about Thallium should probably give you much information about what kind of chemical element Thallium is. 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. Chemists William Crookes and Claude-Auguste Lamy discovered thallium independently in 1861, in residues of sulfuric acid production. Both used the newly developed method of flame spectroscopy, in which thallium produces a notable green spectral line. Furthermore, to get to know more about this chemical element, here are some other facts about Thallium you might be interested in.

Facts about Thallium 1: Poisoning

Notably, thallium poisoning results in hair loss. Because of its historic popularity as a murder weapon, thallium has gained notoriety as “the poisoner’s poison” and “inheritance powder”.

Facts about Thallium 2: Characteristic

Thallium is extremely soft, malleable and sectile enough to be cut with a knife at room temperature. It has a metallic luster that, when exposed to air, quickly tarnishes to a bluish-gray tinge, resembling lead. It may be preserved by immersion in oil. A heavy layer of oxide builds up on thallium if left in air.

Facts about Thallium - Thallium

Facts about Thallium – Thallium

Facts about Thallium 3: Name

Thallium was discovered by flame spectroscopy in 1861.The name comes from thallium’s bright green spectral emission lines.

Facts about Thallium 4: Dominant Use

The dominant use of thallium was the use as poison for rodents. After several accidents the use as poison was banned in the United States by the Presidential Executive Order 11643 in February 1972. In the subsequent years several other countries also banned the use.

Facts about Thallium - Thallium rod corroded

Facts about Thallium – Thallium rod corroded

Facts about Thallium 5: Occurrence

Although thallium is a modestly abundant element in the Earth’s crust, with a concentration estimated to be about 0.7 mg/kg, mostly in association with potassium-based minerals in clays, soils and granites, thallium is not generally economically recoverable from these sources. The major source of thallium for practical purposes is the trace amount that is found in copper, lead, zinc, and other heavy-metal-sulfide ores.

Facts about Thallium 6: Historic Use

The odorless and tasteless thallium sulfate was once widely used as rat poison and ant killer. Since 1972 this use has been prohibited in the United States due to safety concerns. Many other countries followed this example in the following years. Thallium salts were used in the treatment of ringworm, other skin infections and to reduce night sweating of tuberculosis patients.

Facts about Thallium - Thallium pieces in ampoule

Facts about Thallium – Thallium pieces in ampoule

Facts about Thallium 7: High-temperature Supeconductivity

Research activity with thallium is ongoing to develop high-temperature superconducting materials for such applications as magnetic resonance imaging, storage of magnetic energy, magnetic propulsion, and electric power generation and transmission.

Facts about Thallium 8: Toxicity

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.

Facts about Thallium - Periodic table Thallium

Facts about Thallium – Periodic table Thallium

Facts about Thallium 9: Treatment

One of the main methods of removing thallium (both radioactive and normal) from humans is to use Prussian blue, a material which absorbs thallium.Up to 20 g per day of Prussian blue is fed by mouth to the person, and it passes through their digestive system and comes out in the stoll. Hemodialysis and hemoperfusion are also used to remove thallium from the blood serum.

Facts about Thallium 10: Thallium Pollution

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), man-made sources of thallium pollution include gaseous emission of cement factories, coal burning power plants, and metal sewers. The main source of elevated thallium concentrations in water is the leaching of thallium from ore processing operations.

Facts about Thallium - Crystal in Hutchinsonite

Facts about Thallium – Crystal in Hutchinsonite

Hope you would find those Thallium facts really interesting, useful and helpful for your additional reading.

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