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Bureau of Epidemiology

Environmental Epidemiology Program

Thallium Concerns in Traverse Mountain, Lehi

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Currently there is NOT a thallium exposure concern for Lehi's drinking water

Click Here for Soil Sample Results

Thallium is a soft, bluish-white metal that is widely distributed in trace amounts in the earth's crust. In its pure form, it is odorless and tasteless.

Thallium is present in air, water, and soil. Levels of thallium in air and water are generally very low. The greatest exposure occurs when you eat food, mostly home-grown fruits and green vegetables contaminated by thallium. Thallium enters food because it is easily taken up by plants through the roots.

Based upon the reported thallium concentrations in Lehi water, consuming garden vegetables grown in this water should not present an apparent health hazard.
~Dr. Craig Dietrich, Toxicologist; Utah Department of Health

Thallium Facts:

  • Health Effects of Thallium Exposure
    • Short Term Symptoms*:
      • Nausea and Vomiting
      • Painful burning in hands and feet
      • Dramatic hair loss

        *All Short Term Symptoms of Thallium Poisoning are Temporary

    • Long Term Health Effects:
      • Nervous System
      • Kidneys
      • Liver
      • Lungs
      • Heart
  • Thallium is not classifiable as to it's human carcinogenicity.
"Data on mutagenic and carcinogenic risks of thallium and its compounds are extremely scanty but what is available does not indicate that thallium could be mutagenic or carcinogenic." (Leonard A and Gerber GB, 1997)
  • There are medical tests to diagnose thallium poisoning, contact your physician for a blood or urine test
  • Water containing very low levels of thallium is currenlty being used for a secondary water source in Lehi. There is currently no health concern associated with watering your lawns and gardens with this water
    *As a reminder, secondary water sources should never be used for culinary purposes

 

Based on the sampling data collected by the Lehi Water Department, the amount of thallium that residents could have been exposed to, between February 16 to March 8, 2012, could have resulted in temporary symptoms of thallium poisoning. Over this short period of exposure, truly harmful health effects would only have been expected if thallium concentrations in the water were 10,000 to 100,000 times the amount found in the sampling.
~Dr. Craig Dietrich, Toxicologist; Utah Department of Health

Thank you to all who called us with symptoms. If you have additional comments or concerns please contact your physician or Utah Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222