Thallium- a lethal weapon

Context: In a crime-incident in India, Thallium, a toxic metal, was administered in food leading to a series of deaths and illnesses within a family.

About Thallium

  • Thallium is a chemical element with the symbol Tl and atomic number 81.
    It is a highly toxic metal that was once used in various industrial applications, including rat poison and as a depilatory agent.
  • Thallium is an abundant element and is present in about 0.7 mg/kg of the Earth’s crust.
  • Thallium does not exist in free elemental form in nature. It mostly exists in the form of ores with other elements, mostly potassium.
  • Commercially, thallium is extracted from its sulphide-ores of heavy metals, such as zinc, lead, copper etc.
  • Thallium compounds are tasteless, odourless, and colourless, which makes it particularly dangerous for human consumption.
  • Thallium poisoning can occur through various routes, including ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact with thallium compounds. It interferes with the normal functioning of cells by disrupting various enzymes and processes in the body.
  • Symptoms of thallium poisoning can vary and may include severe gastrointestinal distress, neurological symptoms, and hair loss.

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