be assimilated transdermal (through the skin), by inhalation, or
by oral ingestion. Both valence states can have harmful effects:
Thallium+1 may displace potassium from binding sites and influences enzyme
activities; Thallium+3 affects RNA and protein synthesis. Thallium leaves
blood plasma rapidly and is readily transported between body organs
and tissues. It can be deposited in kidneys, pancreas, spleen,
liver, lungs, muscles, neurons and brain. Blood is not a reliable
indicator of thallium status. Symptoms of thallium contamination are often delayed. Early
signs of chronic, low-level contamination may include: mental
confusion, fatigue, and peripheral neurological signs: tingling
muscle aches, tremors and ataxia (loss of voluntary muscle control,
resulting in lack of balance and coordination ). After 3 to 4 weeks, diffuse hair loss
with sparing of pubic and body hair and a decreased density of eye-
brows usually occurs. Increased salivation occurs less commonly.
Longer term or residual symptoms may include: hair loss, ataxia,
tremor, memory loss, weight loss, protein in the urine, and possibly
psychoses. Ophthalmologic neuritis and strabismus may be presented.
Environmental and occupational sources of thallium include:
contaminated drinking water, airborne plumes or waste streams from
lead and zinc smelters, photoelectric, electrochemical and
electronic components (photoelectric cells, semiconductors, infrared
detectors, switches), pigments and paints, colored glass and
synthetic gem manufacture, and industrial catalysts used in some
polymer chemistry processes.
Hair (pubic or scalp) element analysis is an excellent
corroborative test for suspected thallium excess. Although urine is
the primary natural route for excretion of thallium, the fecal route
also contributes. Therefore, fecal metals analysis provides a
confirmatory test for exposure to, and excretion of thallium. Other
clinical findings that would be consistent are: albuminuria, EEG
with diffuse abnormalities, hypertension, and elevated urine
creatinine phosphokinase (CPK).
If you suspect that
you have an elevated Thallium level, it is important to determine
total body load. Here at
Chelation Medical Center we can do an IV chelation provoked challenge.
Just give us a call.