WVGES Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

Click Here To Go To Trace Elements Framed Home Page THALLIUM (Tl)

Thallium Stratigraphic DistributionThallium Geographic DistributionThallium Summary Statistics

Thallium is a toxic trace element present in coal in such small amounts that it is of little environmental concern.

Geologic Distribution: Thallium is suspected to occur within pyrite in coal 1,2.  Mean thallium in West Virginia coals was 1.19 ppm on a whole coal basis. Thallium statistically correlated very poorly with ash yield, but correlated with mercury (Hg) and total sulfur, but not with pyritic sulfur. Both thallium and mercury are known to occur in small amounts in pyrite.  Thallium was less than 2 ppm on a whole coal basis statewide with isolated higher values in several pyrite-rich very high sulfur coals in Wetzel and Mineral counties.

Economic Impact:  Thallium in coal has no economic value.  Thallium is toxic and was used in poisons (insecticides and rodenticides), prohibited since 1975 for household use, and is a suspected carcinogen 3. It is also used in photocells and infrared detectors 3.

Environmental Impact: Thallium emitted by coal burning and ore processing is regarded as an environmental contaminant 4. However, thallium in coal is low in concentration, and not considered detrimental during coal mining and use 1.  A thorough  review of thallium in the environment has been published 5.

    1. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    2. Finkelman, R.B., (1981)
    3. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
    4. Zitco, V., (1975)
    5. Smith, I.C. and Carson, B.L., (1977b)
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