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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION

  1. USES: Thallium is a metal used in manufacturing. Previously, it had been used as a rodenticide and insecticide and in hair removal products. It has been used in homicides. Thallium 201 is still used as a radioisotope for nuclear medicine studies.
  1. EPIDEMIOLOGY: Exposures are very rare but deaths have occurred.
  1. PHARMACOLOGY: Thallium is distributed similar to potassium in the body. It is taken up by red blood cells and therefore can be used to track blood flow in diagnostic studies.
  1. TOXICOLOGY: Thallium is a general cellular poison. It inhibits ATP formation and blocks sulfhydryl group crosslinking.
  1. WITH POISONING/EXPOSURE
    1. OVERDOSE: Symptoms are usually delayed 12 to 24 hours after exposure.
    1. MILD TO MODERATE TOXICITY: Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur. S
    1. SEVERE TOXICITY: Severe GI effects including hematemesis, massive diarrhea leading to severe hypovolemia. If the patient recovers, they will go on to develop a painful sensory peripheral neuropathy, generally beginning 1 to 5 days after exposure. This may be followed by a motor neuropathy which can progress to cranial nerve palsies, to paralysis, and respiratory failure. Seizures have been reported and in dysrhythmias and cardiovascular collapse may occur in severe cases. Alopecia generally develops 2 to 4 weeks after exposure.
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