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Get Informed | What is Thallium?

Thallium is a naturally occurring gray to bluish-gray post-transition or alkali metal that is soft and malleable. Trace levels of thallium are commonly present in lead and zinc ores associated with zinc and fly-ash, coal waste, and cement manufacturing. Thallium has been used by bioterrorists; historically, its primary commercial use has been as a rodenticide or insecticide. The use of thallium as a rodent control measure was banned in the USA in the mid-1970s. Thallium is used in electronics and optical glass manufacturing, green fireworks, and superconducting materials. In 2015, there were over 116 regulated utilities in the USA servicing at least 435,000 customers with thallium over the health guideline of 0.1 ppb (California), and over 400 customers over the EPA drinking water limit.

How Does Thallium Become a problem?

Thallium and compounds that contain thallium can be highly toxic. Thallium can be absorbed through the skin, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal tracts and can bioaccumulate in the body.

What are the Health Risks for Thallium?

Thallium exposure can result in hair loss and changes in blood chemistry. It can also adversely impact the nervous system and create problems in the kidneys, intestines, and the liver.

Did You Know?
Brian Oram, geologist and founder of the Know Your H20 website, was involved in the infamous Joann Curley murder case in Northeastern Pennsylvania where it was alleged that contractor Robert Curley was exposed to Thallium while decommissioning and remodeling a university laboratory and chemical stockroom. It turned out that this was not the case and the actual cause was that he was poisoned slowly over time by his wife, Joann, using rat poison which contained Thallium. In the human body, thallium acts as an anticoagulant in the bloodstream. Thallium poisoning was confirmed by hair analysis, including when each episode of poisoning occurred and how much poison was administered in the multiple poisoning events. The university chemical stockroom was ruled out as a source of thallium because Curley’s hair contained considerable arsenic as well as thallium, typical of rat poison, while the university thallium sources were pure, free of any arsenic.
"Robert Curley was hospitalized in September 1991 with flu-like symptoms, complaining of debilitating pain in his palms and the soles of his feet, and began vomiting and losing his hair."
CBS News report on the case

What are the Standards for Thallium?

Thallium is regulated as a primary drinking water standard, because of health concerns. The EPA has set a maximum contaminant level for thallium of 0.002 mg/L or 2 ppb and a maximum contaminant level goal of 0.0005 mg/L or 0.5 ppb. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the California Environmental Protection Agency has set a public health goal of 0.1 ppb or 0.0001 mg/L and Maine has a standard of 0.0006 mg/L or 0.6 ppb.

Get Tested | Thallium

Like many contaminants in drinking water, the element is potentially hazardous at levels or concentrations that do not impart a noticeable taste, odor, or appearance to the water. Your best course of action is to get your water tested and compile as much information as possible about your water supply source, well construction, surrounding land-use, and local geology. If you do have a thallium problem, there are water treatment technologies available now that can reduce or even remove thallium from your drinking water.

Note - Do not just test your water for Thallium because there may be other primary and secondary drinking water standards that are elevated or that may interfere with the proposed remediation system.

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Level 1 Testing is done with simple observations that an individual can make with their own senses such as sight, smell, and taste. These observations can be readily apparent or can be observed as they change over time. In addition, accessible related information about the home can also be used to narrow down the cause of your water issues.

Observations for Thallium

The symptoms/sources for thallium in the water include:

  • There is sudden hair loss, hair discoloration, transverse white lines on nails (Mee's Lines), pain in muscles and joints, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal irritation, nerve damage, and fatigue. Depending on the exposure route there may be elevated levels of thallium in blood, hair, or urine.
  • You live near a hazardous waste site or region with a historic use of thallium in manufacturing, such as in: iron and steel manufacturing, mining, refining, fossil fuel combustion, semiconductor production, and ore processing.
Level 1 | Self-Test Web App
To do a quick and easy self diagnosis of your water, click the button below.
Launch

Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself Testing

Level 2 Testing is Do-It-Yourself testing that can be done in your own home using a Testing Kit. After you’ve done Level 1 Testing, Level 2 Testing can confirm if your observations are correct. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment (see below) or continue to Level 3 Testing.

Notes on Level 2 Testing for Thallium

Since we are not aware of a self-testing kit for thallium, we recommend a comprehensive in-home screening test, and that you consider ordering a Neighborhood Environmental Report.

Recommended Level 2 Tests
Filter WaterFW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
Crystal QuestThunder 4000M Reverse Osmosis System with UV

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L (POU Device System Component)</div>

View
Crystal QuestEagle 4000A Whole House Filter and Water Conditioner

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trichloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POE Device)</div>

View
Recommended Products
Filter WaterST-FILT-F-03 | FW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
Crystal QuestLT-CRYS-T-01 | Thunder 4000M Reverse Osmosis System with UV

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L (POU Device System Component)</div>

View
Crystal QuestLT-CRYS-E-02 | Eagle 4000A Whole-House Filter and Water Conditioner

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trichloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POE Device)</div>

View
Neighborhood Environmental Report

Order a Neighborhood Environmental Report to learn about potential hazards in your community.

Level 3 | Informational Testing

Level 3 Testing is done through an accredited Water Testing Laboratory. With Level 3 Testing, you can order a testing kit that is used to prepare your sample and submit it to the lab. By utilizing a lab, you have the assurance that a certified water expert had analyzed your water sample. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment options (see below) or continue to Level 4 Testing - Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 3 Testing for Thallium

Not all informational water quality tests include thallium.  If you are strongly considering the installation of a reverse osmosis system, we recommend the National Testing Labs Kit.  If you are screening your water for thallium and other contaminants, we would recommend the TapScore City or Well Water Test kit.  If you are considering a R/O system, we recommend conducting the National Testing Labs Special Testing for Designing Reverse Osmosis Systems and making sure your water does NOT have a bacterial issue.

Recommended Level 3 Tests
Filter WaterFW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View
Crystal QuestThunder 4000M Reverse Osmosis System with UV

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L (POU Device System Component)</div>

View
Crystal QuestEagle 4000A Whole House Filter and Water Conditioner

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trichloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POE Device)</div>

View

Level 4 | Certified Testing

A Level 4 Certified Test Test uses chain-of-custody with a water professional coming to your home to prepare the water sample and then works with an accredited laboratory in order to certify your test results. This type of testing not only gives you the highest level of assurance in the accuracy of your test results, but can also be used as a document in legal cases. For Baseline Testing, we recommend that you use Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 4 Testing for Thallium

It may be advisable to order a Neighborhood Environmental Report for your area, prior to conducting any formal or certified water quality testing.

Neighborhood Environmental Report

Order a Neighborhood Environmental Report to learn about potential hazards in your community.

Get Treatment | Thallium

Pretreatment may be needed in some cases to ensure acceptable treatment by the primary unit. Some of the treatment technologies may not be amenable to point-of-entry, whole-house treatments. In these cases, point-of-use units may be the best option. Periodic testing should be maintained after the treatment system is in place to ensure objectives are being met and the system is operating properly. Most systems will require maintenance on at least an annual basis.

Short Term Treatment

If it appears you are experiencing a problem with thallium, do not boil your drinking water. An interim solution may be the use of a point-of-use device, using a bottled water source, or hauling in potable water. Because other contaminants, such as: cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, and mining-related ions may be present in the water, it would be advisable to have the water tested before and after the use of any point-of-use device.

Recommended Short-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L (POU Device System Component)</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trichloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POE Device)</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Submit a Request for Consultation with the KnowYourH20 Team. Contact Us

Long Term Treatment

For the long-term, it may be necessary to install a water treatment system. For thallium, the common water treatment technologies are ion-exchange, activated alumina, reverse osmosis, and distillation. Depending on the technology and the concentration of thallium and other contaminants, the system may require a number of treatment approaches and a combination of a whole-house treatment, such as the Eagle 4000A, and then point-of-use treatment.

Recommended Long-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L (POU Device System Component)</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trichloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POE Device)</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Not Up for A DIY? Need Help Identifying a Local Know Your H20 Team Professional? Contact Us

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