The Top 13 Most Poisonous Minerals In The Earth's Crust

 Whether you’re a geologist, a science person, or just someone interested in reading about the amazing world we live in, this is the list for you. Everyone has probably heard about cinnabar its lethal effects, but how many of these minerals have you actually heard of? Let’s face it, if it doesn’t help us survive on a day-to-day basis or if it isn’t gold or silver then it must not be that important right? Well, I am here to show you that there’s so much more to our Earth than just those two things and hopefully you learn something new today!

cinnabar

Sometimes the most dangerous and poisonous minerals we can find are the ones that create the most attractive gemstones in the world. It’s just a matter of how we handle them and use them because if they are not treated properly they can be very damaging to our health. The point is not to make you scared of minerals but it is to let you know the things that can harm you and can help with your own knowledge to protect yourself.  Check out this list for the most poisonous minerals found on Earth.

1. Sphalerite


Sphalerite is a mineral that can be found in the Earth's crust, and it is also known as blende or zinc blende. It is made up of zinc sulfide in crystalline form. Sphalerite is the major ore of zinc and is found in many different places in the world. It has a yellowish-brown color to it, which makes it look like gold at times. The mineral sphalerite is often mistaken for pyrite, but pyrite is much more brittle than sphalerite. The name sphalerite comes from a Greek word meaning "treacherous," which shows how toxic this mineral actually is. It has been responsible for many deaths across history. This mineral emits the gas hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs and causes vomiting, diarrhea, and death if inhaled or ingested in large doses.

Sphalerite-Galena

2. Galena


Galena is a mineral that contains lead sulfide and forms cubic crystals. It usually appears with a metallic luster and has a gray or black coloration to it. Galena was used in ancient times to create kohl, which was an eye cosmetic used by Egyptians to protect their eyes from the sun's glare. Galena contains lead sulfide, which is a highly toxic compound that can be deadly if ingested or inhaled. This compound has been used for many years in paints and pesticides until it was discovered to be harmful to humans.

Galena



3. Cinnabar


Cinnabar is a toxic, nonmetallic mineral composed of mercury sulfide that grows in low-temperature hydrothermal veins. Because of its bright red color, it was commonly mistaken for vermilion, another red pigment, by early painters. Unlike cinnabar, vermilion is made from mercuric sulfide and is less toxic. Although the two minerals look almost identical, they are chemically very different. Cinnabar is mined as an ore of mercury. Its widespread use in the past has left many sites contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury and its compounds.


Cinnabar-Ukraine


4. Stibnite


Stibnite, a soft gray mineral with a chemical formula of Sb2S3, is the most important source for metalloid antimony. It is one of the most toxic minerals on earth and exposure to it can cause serious health problems such as blindness and even death. Stibnite is found in low-temperature hydrothermal deposits as well as in high-temperature replacement deposits associated with gold and base metal sulfide deposits. Stibnite has been used since antiquity to make black antimony sulfide pigments which have been used as mascara and eyeliner in ancient.

Stibnite


5. Chalcanthite


Chalcanthite is a blue mineral that is made up of copper, sulfur, and water. This mineral is often found in arid climates and forms when water evaporates from a solution that contains copper. The evaporation process leaves behind the chalcanthite crystals. This mineral is one of the most poisonous minerals known to man. It is rarely ingested because it tastes extremely bitter, but if it is swallowed, it can cause severe convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.

Chalcanthite


6. Asbestos


Asbestos is made of tiny fibers that are very hard to see with the naked eye. The fibers are soft and flexible but are highly resistant to heat and chemicals. Asbestos was once used in many things such as insulation for pipes, insulation for walls, and fireproof clothing. When asbestos gets into the air or water, it can cause cancerous diseases such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. It can also cause other serious health problems such as shortness of breath and inflammation of the lungs.

Asbestos-fibers






7. Hutchinsonite



Hutchinsonite is a rare thallium arsenic sulfosalt mineral with the chemical formula: TlAsS2. It has a PH scale of 0. It is found in small quantities in China, Japan, and the USA. Hutchinsonite is only toxic if it is ingested or enters the body by absorption. It can cause intestinal irritation, vomiting, and death.

Hutchinsonite

8. Orpiment



Orpiment is a toxic arsenic sulfide mineral with the chemical formula As2S3. It has a PH scale of 0-0.5. Orpiment can be found at moderate altitudes in volcanic fumaroles, low-temperature hydrothermal veins, and hot springs deposits in Italy, China, Turkey, and the USA among other places in the world. Orpiment is highly toxic when ingested or inhaled and causes vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, and death due to kidney failure if not treated immediately after exposure.

Orpiment




9. Torbernite



Torbernite belongs to a group of minerals known as uranyl phosphates and contains uranium and copper as well as phosphorus and water molecules. The mineral was discovered by Torbern Bergman in 1781 who also gave the mineral its name. It has since been used as a source of uranium but can also be found in nuclear waste dumps where it remains.

Torbernite


10. Crocidolite



Crocidolite is a mineral with blue color and it is one of three different types of asbestos. It has been found throughout Africa and Australia in various forms. It is usually mined for its uses in commercial products, but it has also been used as a gemstone. Crocidolite has been associated with mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer that occurs when the fibers from the mineral become lodged in the lungs.

Crocidolite

12. Uranothorite



Uranothorite is actually a radioactive mineral that consists mainly of uranium oxide. This specific mineral contains about 4% thorium oxide and up to 1% radium oxide by weight. Upon exposure to air, uranothorite will slowly decompose into other uranium oxides such as uraninite and uranoirite. 
Also known as thorium dioxide, it is made up of approximately 50 percent thorium. Uranothorite emits gamma rays, which are high-energy electromagnetic radiation that can potentially damage human DNA.

Uranothorite-pegmatite

13. Carnotite


Carnotite is a radioactive mineral that occurs as a secondary oxide-hydroxide in sandstone and other sedimentary rocks that contain uranium and vanadium deposits. Its color ranges from yellow to orange but can be greenish when it is contaminated with other minerals. It is a potassium uranium vanadate, with the chemical formula K2(UO2)2(VO4)2·3H2O, containing a mixture of uranyl and vanadyl ions and phosphate in its structure. It is one of the primary sources of both uranium and vanadium, which has led to its use in making uranium fuel rods for nuclear power plants and as a catalyst for making sulfuric acid in the chemical industry. It also emits radiation, causing serious health risks to people who work with it or live near any area where it has been mined for use in nuclear power plants or other industries that make use of the mineral.

Carnotite mineral Crystals

Conclusion

Coming up with the list, I had this idea that we might have to leave a few out (having looked at the number of minerals found in the earth, I knew it would be possible to have more than 13), but in the end, the top 13 is what you see here, and I stand by ranking them how they are. Each and every one of these minerals could kill you given the right amount or situation. Naturally, if you got yourself a pair of gloves and made a habit of handling each and every object without touching it directly, you wouldn’t need to worry very much about most of these minerals. However, if you were to get into a mining site where many hundred or thousands of tons were being moved around, accidentally inhaling any one of these would potentially become a significant problem.

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2 Comments

  1. I collected some of these. Cinnabar, at age 63 l.took.some college courses, one Mayan archeology ( one if my researches. When professor mentioned temples covered in red natural pigment paint. I asked "cinnabar?" "Yes"

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  2. When consumed orally, cinnabar is chemically inert and has a low hazardous potential. Cinnabar is less hazardous than many other types of mercury in terms of risk assessment, but the justification for its use in traditional Chinese medicine has yet to be thoroughly validated.

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