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Thallium Toxicity

Thallium (Tl) Thallium can 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 sensations, 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.  
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