 Thallium is extremely soft and malleable and
can be cut with a knife at room temperature.
 It has a metallic luster, but when exposed to
air, it quickly tarnishes with a bluish-gray
tinge that resembles lead. In the presence of
water, thallium hydroxide is formed.
 Acute thallium poisoning is primarily
characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms,
while neurologic findings predominate with
chronic exposure.
 Thallium toxicity is characterized by a painful
ascending peripheral neuropathy and alopecia;
this clinical manifestation presents 2-3 weeks
after an acute poisoning.
 Diplopia, abnormal color vision, impairment of
visual acuity, hair loss, and dermatologic
symptoms are also signs of thallium poisoning.
 If exposure to thallium should exceed 0.1 mg
per m2 of skin in an 8-hour time-weighted
average (40-hour work week) seek Prussian
Blue, a dark blue pigment.
Lasting Effects
 Lasting effects may include
 neurologic manifestations such as: anxiety,
confusion, delirium, hallucinations, psychosis,
personality changes, depression, apathy, and
 The two chemists, William Crookes and Claude-
Auguste Lamy, discovered thallium
independently in 1861 by the newly developed
method of flame spectroscopy. Both discovered
the new element in residues of the sulfuric acid
 Thallium is highly toxic and was used in ra
poisons and insecticides.
 Because of its use for murder, thallium has
gained the nicknames "The Poisoner's Poison"
and "Inheritance Powder"
Case Study 1
 Nikolai Evgenievich Khokhlov (Николай Евгеньевич
Хохлов) was a KGB officer who defected to the
United States in 1953. In 1957 he testified about KGB
activities. The KGB tried to kill him unsuccessfully
using thallium. Khokhlov fell ill with stomach cramps
and nausea and within days his hair had fallen out
and he was covered with marks on his skin. He fled
the Soviet Union to Germany where doctors
suspected thallium poisoning and tried every known
antidote without success. Khokhlov was then taken
to the US hospital and treated with hydrocortisone,
steroids, and blood and plasma transfusions and he
eventually recovered.
Case Study 2
 In 1953, Australian Caroline Grills was
sentenced to life in prison after three family
members and a close family friend died.
Authorities found thallium in tea that she had
given to two additional family members. She
became affectionately known as "Auntie
Thally" to other inmates of Sydney's Long
Bay prison.

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