|Cinnabar from Wanshan mine, Tongren Pref., Guizhou province, China. credit: Dakota Matrix Minerals|
Precious minerals make the modern world go 'round—they're used in everything from circuit boards to tableware. They're also some of the most toxic materials known to science, and excavating them has proved so dangerous over the years, some have been phased out of industrial production altogether. Listed below are the 10 most deadly minerals on earth. These rocks do not need to be thrown to hurt you!!
Chalcanthite (hydrated copper sulphate) is the bright blue mineral grown from solution in science labs and home chemical kits. Chalcanthite should never be taste tested by amateur scientists for salt content, or an extremely serious overdose of copper could result. Just releasing crystals of the blue mineral has killed entire ponds of algae, and posed great environmental threats. . It is water soluble and will crystallise out again from solution. The copper in this mineral is very bio-available and is toxic to plants and in high quantities toxic to humans.
Hutchinsonite is a sulfosalt mineral of thallium, arsenic and lead with formula (Tl,Pb)2As5S9. Hutchinsonite is a hazardous but dramatic mixture of thallium, lead and arsenic. Is a rare sulphosalt mineral that requires handling with great care as all three of its main components are poisonous particularly thallium as it can cause hair loss, serious illness and death. The three poisonous metals form a lethal mineral cocktail that should be handled only with great caution.
Galena is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. Galena is the principle ore of lead, and forms glistening silver cubes with almost unnaturally perfect shapes. Although lead is normally extremely flexible, the sulfur content of galena makes it extraordinarily brittle and reactive to chemical treatment. It's not as bad as mercury, which will kill you immediately outright, but lead doesn't get flushed out of your system. It accumulates over the years, eventually reaching toxic levels. Once that happens both you and your kids pay the price, as lead toxicity is carcinogenic to you and is teratogenic (causing severe birth defects) to your offspring.
Asbestos is not one mineral but six defined separate minerals. One being a serpentine (chrysotile) and the other five being amphiboles (crocidolite, grunerite (amosite), tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite). Unlike the other minerals in the top 10 deadliest. It was once widely used for a variety of commercial and industrial applications thanks to its strong, fire-resistant, and flexible nature—from ceiling tiles and roofing materials to flooring and thermal insulation.
|Erionite in Arizona|
Erionite (NaK2MgCa1.5)[Al8Si28]O72 28H2O) is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that belongs to a group of minerals called zeolites. It usually is found in volcanic ash that has been altered by weathering and ground water. It looks a lot like asbestos minerals and harms humans much in the same way: mesothelioma. It's primarily an industry-specific disease—or at least it was, until we realized that it caused super-cancer and stopped mining the stuff in the late 1980s.
|Phenakite crystal from Mount Ikaka, Madagascar)|
Hydroxyapatite (Ca5(PO4)3(OH)2 is a naturally occurring mineral form of calcium apatite. The phosphorous in your garden fertilizer and fluoride in your tap water very likely came from a rock like this, called Apatite. These phosphate minerals come in three varieties, each respectively containing elevated levels of OH, F, or Cl ions—the Hydroxyapatite version being a major component of your tooth enamel and the Fluorapatite version constituting what's dumped into civic water supplies to prevent cavities. And while having strong teeth and bones is a good thing, exposure to Hydroxyapatite (either by mining or processing it) will deposit those same minerals on your heart valves, effectively petrifying them.