Earth

The World’s 10 Most Deadly Minerals

Everything you see around you is made from some kind of material. Precious minerals are no exception and they are used in everything starting from tableware to circuit boards. There are some which are very toxic though, where digging them up turned out to be so dangerous that, governments all around the world prohibit their excavation for health and safety reasons. Below, find the 10 most deadly minerals on Earth. Let’s put it this way, they can hurt you just by being next to you!

Chalcanthite – CuSO4·5H2O

This is Chalcanthite. Basically, a water-soluble hydrated copper sulfate. It can be found in copper ore. There’s a twist though. Everything needs to be as dry as possible otherwise, it can recrystallize in a wet environment. As it dissolves in water, once you pull it out, if there is moist around, it can reform as a solution. It’s toxic to plants, but in high quantities, it’s toxic to humans as well.

Stibnite – Sb2S3

 

Stibnite is a toxic antimony sulfide mineral with an orthorhombic crystal lattice and a source of metalloid antimony. What we’ve done is made paste (and used it!) for the cosmetics industry. Basically, it was used to darken eyebrows and to make your lashes look denser and darker. It was also wildly used for the creation of eating utensils, but it turns out it causes poisoning from antimony ingestion.

Asbestos – Mg3Si2O5(OH)4

You’ve heard of this one 100%. Asbestos has been wildly linked with lung cancer. But note, it’s not one mineral, but six and they are all separate. What asbestos does, is, it grows thin hairs, made out of fiber crystals, and they can break off and make dust particles. It turned out that those fiber crystals can cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

The crystal, due to it’s strong, fire-resistant and flexible nature, was used for a variety of commercial and industrial applications (isolation for buildings, fire-proofing etc..)

Torbernite – Cu(UO2)2(PO4)2·8 – 12 H2O

A mineral you don’t want around you, no matter how pretty it looks. It’s made from uranyl, hydrated green copper and phosphate. It’s found in blocks containing uranium thus, it’s also radioactive. If you’re exposed long enough, you can get lung cancer as the mineral exerts radon which is radioactive.

Cinnabar – HgS

The above is called Cinnabar. It’s characterized with a deep red color and it provides much of the worlds elemental mercury. If it get’s exposed to oxygen, it releases mercury and dimethyl mercury which are two very toxic compounds. They cause irreparable damage to children’s nervous systems. It’s disburse can be airborne, through intestines or even skin!
Galena – PbS

The main ore of Lead. It’s quite abundant thus making it widely distributed. Too bad it’s sulfide based. More or less, lead is extremely flexible in it’s natural state, but, the sulfur addition makes it brittle, and also, makes it react to chemical treatment. Once treated, it’s not as bad compared to mercury, but lead accumulates in your system over the years where it can eventually reach toxic levels. Lead toxicity is known to be carcinogenic to your body, and it’s also teratogenic (it can cause severe birth defects) to your child. Oh, we forgot to mention that it’s silver and creates unnaturally almost perfect shapes!

Hutchinsonite – (Tl,Pb)2As5S9

Hutchinsonite – an arsenic sulfide consisting mainly of thallium and lead. You can encounter it in hydro-thermal vents. Most common use: Rat Poison and insecticides. Exposure to this mineral can lead to death.
Orpiment – As2S3
Another quiche colored (bright orange-yellowish) material took to our sight. Orpiment. You can find it in hydro-thermal vents, fumaroles and even hot springs! It was used in China for traditional medicine, even though it was toxic. It’s wider use was in alchemy though, where it was used as a catalyst in the search to create gold. If it oxidizes, it causes arsenic poisoning.
Riebeckite – Na2(Fe2+3Fe3+2)Si8O22(OH)2
Also known as Cocidolite, it comes from altered rocks (metamorphic ones). Much like asbestos, it has almost the same properties. But, also like asbestos, it grows fibers which cause cancer mesothelioma and it can cause asbestosis.
Arsenopyrite – FeAsS
Last one on our list, Arsenopyrite. It’s an iron arsenic sulfide with a brilliant steel metallic color. Hydrothermal vents and pegmatites are the places you can find it. The arsenic leads to a number of environmental and human damages and can sometimes be associated with gold deposits. Oxidation of arsenopyrite leads to soluble arsenic in water and subsequent acid mine drainage.
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