Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Identify A Case Of Thallium Poisoning

Thallium is highly poisonous both in elemental form and in compounds. Thallium compounds tend to be highly soluble and, therefore, easily absorbed through the skin. Because thallium is a stable element, it cannot be broken down or otherwise destroyed. The following steps will help you identify and treat a case of thallium poisoning.


1. Look at the symptoms. Thallium kills by substituting itself for potassium in the body, which disrupts many cellular processes. The most distinctive symptoms are hair loss and the feeling of walking on hot coals. Other common symptoms include diarrhea, numbness in the extremities and vomiting.

2. Get a medical examination. Routine tests may show damage to the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs and nervous system. A specific test for thallium that shows more than .1 mg/mm^2 of exposed skin may indicate thallium poisoning.

3. Seek treatment in a hospital setting. If the ingestion was recent, the primary method of treatment is oral administration of Prussian blue. Prussian blue exchanges thallium for potassium in the body. The thallium-contaminated Prussian blue is then passed out in the stool.

4. Use other methods for long-term exposure. Treatment for long-term exposure to thallium is complex with limited results. Diuresis and potassium chloride are the standard treatments to increase the excretion rates of thallium. Dialysis can reduce the level of thallium in the blood. Dimercaprol, EDTA, penicillamine, sodium iodide and thiouracil have also been used with some benefit.

Tags: Prussian blue, long-term exposure, potassium body