|Name, Symbol, Number||Thallium, Tl, 81|
|Chemical series||True metals|
|Group, Period, Block||13 (IIIA), 6 , p|
|Density, Hardness||11850 kg/m3, 1.2|
|Atomic weight||204.3833 amu|
|Atomic radius (calc.)||190 (156) pm|
|Covalent radius||148 pm|
|van der Waals radius||196 pm|
|Electron configuration||[Xe]44f14 5d10 6s2 6p1|
|e- 's per energy level||2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 3|
|Oxidation states (Oxide)||3,1 (mildly basic)|
|State of matter||solid|
|Melting point||577 K (579 °F)|
|Boiling point||1746 K (2683 °F)|
|Molar volume||17.22 ×1010-3 m3/mol|
|Heat of vaporization||164.1 kJ/mol|
|Heat of fusion||4.142 kJ/mol|
|Vapor pressure||5.33 E-06 Pa at 577 K|
|Speed of sound||818 m/s at 293.15 K|
|Electronegativity||1.62 (Pauling scale)|
|Specific heat capacity||129 J/(kg*K)|
|Electrical conductivity||6.17 106/m ohm|
|Thermal conductivity||46.1 W/(m*K)|
|1st ionization potential||589.4 kJ/mol|
|2nd ionization potential||1971 kJ/mol|
|3rd ionization potential||2878 kJ/mol|
|Most Stable Isotopes|
|SI units & STP are used except where noted.|
|Table of contents|
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This metal is very soft and malleable and can be cut with a knife. When it is first exposed to air, thallium has a metallic luster but quickly tarnishes with a bluish-gray tinge that resembles lead (it is preserved by keeping it under water). A heavy layer of oxide builds up on thallium if left in air, and in the presence of water thallium hydride is formed.
The odorless and tasteless thallium sulfate was widely used in the past as a rat poison and ant killer. In the United States and many other countries, this use is no longer allowed due to safety concerns, however. Other uses;
Thallium is found in the minerals crooksite, hutchinsonite, and lorandite. This metal is also contained in pyrites and is extracted as a by-product of sulfuric acid production when pyrite ore is roasted. Another way this element is obtained is from the smelting of lead and zinc rich ores. Manganese nodules which are found on the ocean floor, also contain thallium but nodule extraction is prohibitively expensive and potentially environmentally destructive. In addition, several other thallium minerals containing 16% to 60% thallium, occur in nature as sulfide or selenide complexes with antimony, arsenic, copper, lead, and silver but are rare and have no commercial importance as sources of this element.
Thallium has 25 isotopes which have atomic masses that range from 184 to 210. Tl-203 and Tl-205 are the only stable isotopes and Tl-204 is the most stable radioisotope with a half-life of 3.78 years.
Thallium and its compounds are highly toxic and should be handled with great care. The toxicity has led to its use (now discontinued in many countries) as a rat poison. Amongst the distinctive effects of thallium poisoning are loss of hair, and damage to peripheral nerves. Contact with skin is dangerous and adequate ventilation should be provided when melting this metal. Exposure to soluble compounds of thallium shouldn't exceed 0.1 mg per m³ of skin in an 8-hour time-weighted average (40-hour work week). Thallium is a suspected human carcinogen.
The hair loss was the cause of thallium being used in the treatment of ringworm, but that use has long been abandoned. There is a persistent story that the CIA, in an attempt to discredit Fidel Castro had actually planned to poison him with thallium so that his beard would fall out, but apparently sanity prevailed and the attempt was never made.
The detective fiction writer, Agatha Christie, who had worked as a pharmacist, used thallium as the agent of murder in her novel The Pale Horse - the first clue to the murder method coming from the hair loss of the victims.
The 1996 film The Young Poisoner's Handbook was based on the activities of Graham Frederick Young who killed at least three people with thallium in the 1960s and 1970s.