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Thallium

Shrouded in mystery and suspense, this mineral has been abundantly used as a murder weapon and has gained an on-screen presence in many murder shows. Nicknamed the “Inheritance Powder” and “The Poisoner’s Poison” thallium is highly toxic and its use is now being greatly controlled.

What Is Thallium?

Thallium is a silvery white post-transitional metal, its metallic lustre quickly transforms into a bluish-gray tint when exposed to air. It is extremely soft and malleable and can be cut easily with a knife. Although it is found abundantly in the Earth’s crust it is however sourced through trace amounts found in lead, copper and zinc ores through smelting and leaching.

What Is Thallium Used For?

We already know that it has been used as a tool in some murders and used to be found in rat poison. Commercially it is used in the electronics industry, in pharmaceuticals and in glass manufacturing. It is used in infrared detectors, semiconductors, nuclear medicine and photocells.

Did you know? Prussian blue is the only antidote to thallium ingestion.

Where Is Thallium Produced?

According to the Element Investing website:

“World resources of thallium contained in zinc resources total about 17 million kilograms; most are in Canada, Europe, and the United States. An additional 630 million kilograms is in world coal resources.”

The countries producing thallium are Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Canada and China

Conclusion

Thallium is a highly toxic poor metal that is known for its presence in some murders. Commercially it is used in glass making, infrared detectors, electronics, photocells and medical practices. There is a restriction on its use in some countries, notably in the United States and is currently produced in Canada, Russia, Netherlands, Germany and China.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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