Minerals found in the modern world is very widely used. They are used virtually everywhere, from the production of printed circuit boards to manufacturing cookware. However, not all minerals known to science, are equally useful, many of them lethally toxic, and their production and use have been so dangerous that some of them have been completely withdrawn from the production. Some, but not all.

Portal Gizmodo prepared a compilation of nine of the most toxic minerals that have been used or are used in the industry so far.

Cinnabar (HgS)

Mercuric sulfide, better known as cinnabar, is the main source for the production of elemental mercury from the earliest days of human civilization. Mercury has traditionally been used as a coloring agent for ceramics and inks for tattoos, but in today’s world, it began to actively use when creating scientific equipment, such as thermometers and barometers, as well as in a number of areas of heavy industry, for example, for cleaning precious metals and chlorine production. It should also not forget the mercury switches, which are used in some types of electronics.

However, in the oxidation of this element begins to produce methylmercury and dimethylmercury – two toxic components, which can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system of children. Even small amounts of mercury is a deadly substance, and can get into our body through the respiratory tract, digestive tract and skin. As a result, many enterprises have completely abandoned or are beginning to abandon the use of this component in its industry.

Pyrite (FeS2)

Sulfur and sulfuric acid is widely used in almost all industries. Sulfur can be found in almost everything, from the matches and tires and ending with fungicides (chemicals intended for the control of fungal diseases of plants) and fumigants (used to kill pathogens of plants). In turn, the sulfuric acid is a common component of many industrial processes ranging from the production of dyes and finishing explosives. And once it is pyrite, from the union of sulfur and iron, and was the only mineral source for the extraction of these components.

In a short time increase the volume of production of pyrite was to cause serious harm to the environment, as the extractive mineral was around pollute groundwater supplies. In addition, pyrite has one unpleasant feature: it can spontaneously ignite on contact with air. Consequently, the auto-ignition and oxidation in air is discharged byproduct – toxic metals such as arsenic. It is for this reason that in many coal mines pulverized limestone powder, which can slow the oxidation of ore and to prevent its self-ignition.

Today, a wide commercial production of pyrite is not engaged. Scientists realized that the sulfur can be easily extract as bio-product during the processing of natural gas and oil. Extraction of natural sulfur can now be carried out only when necessary to obtain samples.

Fluorite (CaF2)

This amazingly beautiful green stone called fluorite. Composed of calcium fluoride, fluorite is commonly found adjacent to the deposits of such ores, iron and coal. This stone can be used for the production of smelter flux, but more often it is used for the production of jewelry and telescope lenses. Upon mixing of fluorite with sulfuric acid produces the hydrogen fluoride – very important in chemical industry.

However, fluorite can be dangerous for those who often wears jewelry made from it, or for those who live near the fluorite mines. The fact that the fluoroplastic comprises a fluorite-soluble mineral that can get into the groundwater sources and enter the lungs, if the spray or burn coal furnaces.

Once inside the body, PTFE may cause fluorosis – a very unpleasant and, pardon the tautology, painful sore, weakens our bones and inflict damage to the connective tissue. Many rural communities in India, China and the rest of Southeast Asia suffer from outbreaks of the disease, due to the use of contaminated water (in India) or inhaling mineral (mostly in China). In only one Chinese province of Guizhou consequences of this infection affects about 10 million people.

Quartz (SiO2)

From optics and electronics to manufacturing abrasives and lighters (quartz produce silicon) – everywhere quartz. Quartz is probably the most frequently encountered in the earth’s crust and the most widely used man mineral. Some believe its value to the production of the means to ignite (it produces a long spark by friction of iron) at one time even had become a stimulus for the development of the mining business. Today, piezoelectric quartz crystals are essential components in electronics and digital clocks.

Just do not try to crush and inhale quartz, if you certainly do not want to get sore called silicosis. A respiratory disease characterized by the formation of the sealing tissue in the lungs and lymph nodes, which makes it difficult breathing. Usually the disease can manifest itself after about 20 years of being in this environment, but in some cases symptoms may begin to appear within 5-15 years. If you take just a handful and inhale silica dust, that person will get acute silicosis, resulting in the lungs will fill with fluid. In the end, people literally drown in fluid secreted by his own body.

Furthermore, silica dust can easily cause lung cancer. Most often, inhaling silica dust causes of occupational diseases that occur when working on specific companies, such as mines, manufacturing abrasives and glass. In view of the public health organizations in many countries have imposed regulations on the mandatory use of such works respirators.

Galena (PbS)

Galena – the main source of lead. Lead has been used since Roman times. The Romans used it everywhere: from the production of pipes and melting, to production of paint and cutlery. Lead we use now. He is often seen in batteries and bullets, as shielded protection (for example, X-ray machines in the reactor vessel). In the past it was used as an additive in paint and gasoline, as well as used as an anti-corrosive chemicals.

He’s not as dangerous as mercury, which will kill you for sure, but the lead, hitting you in the body, to withdraw from there can not. He will build up inside the body for many years and eventually reach the critical toxic concentration. Once that happens, you would pay your future children. Moreover, the toxicity of lead can cause you have cancer, so he is also teratogenic, that is, cause birth defects in your children.

Phenacite (BeSiO4)

Phenacite mined as suitable for the production of mother’s jewelry, as well as a valuable source of beryllium. Previously, beryllium was used as the primary source for the production of ceramic materials, but soon people found out that the inhalation of beryllium dust causes berylliosis – occupational disease characterized by inflammation of the connective tissue of the lungs. It’s like silicosis, but is more serious and has a chronic character.

Berylliosis recover from a simple reduction in the level of inhaled beryllium will not work. If you have earned berylliosis, you’ll have to live with it for the rest of life. In general, your lungs become hypersensitive to beryllium, which causes an allergic reaction in which in your lungs formed small nodules, granulomas. Granulomas very beginning to obstruct your breathing, and in the worst case also can trigger such diseases as tuberculosis.

Erionite Ca3K2Na2 [Al10Si26O72] .30H2O (Z = 1)

Erionite tsiolitov refers to the group – minerals similar in structure and properties and is often used as molecular sieves because of their ability to selectively filter (via absorption) as the specific molecule from the atmosphere or from liquids. Most often, erionite is found in volcanic ash. Its use as a catalyst of noble metals for alloying, hydrocarbon cracking (processing), and as a component for fertilizer production.

Like many asbestos minerals, erionite may cause mesothelioma – a cancer of the mesothelium (the tissue between the organs). As soon as people found out about it (it happened in the late 80-ies of the 20th century), the extraction of erionite was immediately decided to stop.

Hydroxyapatite (Ca5 (PO4) 3 (OH))

Phosphorus compounds in the fertilizer you use for the garden, as well as phosphorus in the water that flows out of your tap is likely to have been produced from the same pebble, like in the picture above. He called apatite. This phosphor mineral is of three types, each of which contains a higher level of ion OH (organic and inorganic), F (fluorine) and Cl (chlorine). Hydroxyapatite, in turn, is a major component of our enamel (and bone in general), while fluorapatite is the means by which water is added to the system (it is also used in toothpastes), in order to avoid tooth decay and strengthen enamel. And although the presence of strong bones and teeth in humans is an advantage, spraying hydroxyapatite (as a result of its production or processing) can lead to the fact that this mineral gets inside your body, reaches the heart and can cause petrification valves.

Crocidolite (Na2 (Fe2 +, Mg) 3Fe3 + 2Si8O22 (OH) 2)

Meet the most dangerous mineral on Earth – crocidolite, more commonly known as blue asbestos. Once upon a time, because of its strength, fire resistance and ductile nature, it is very widely used in various commercial and industrial sectors, from production of ceiling tiles and roofing materials to manufacturing of flooring and insulation.

However, in 1964, Dr. Christopher Wagner has identified the link between asbestos and mesothelioma (tissue damage between the bodies), then blue asbestos almost instantly disappeared from the market. Unfortunately, many of the buildings constructed before this time and dostoyat to this day, still contain blue asbestos.


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