We’re used to think about minerals as colorful rocks that vary in shapes, sizes and colors. But there’s more to them than meets the eye. There are almost five thousand mineral species out there and probably many more that haven’t been discovered yet. Precious minerals are amongst the most toxic materials ever discovered. Excavating these types of minerals has proven so dangerous in the last decades that we’ve quit using them at all. So you might consider dropping the random rocks you pick up on your hikes. That is, if you don’t want to get poisoned. Keep reading about top ten deadliest minerals on Earth to find out what you should and shouldn’t pick up.
10. The Coloradoite
This rock is a recent discovery and it’s a crystalline mineral that originates in magma veins. What makes the Coloradoite dangerous is the mercury telluride compound that is created by mercury fusing with tellurium. And don’t even think to heat this mineral or chemically alter it. It will release vapors that are toxic.
9. The Chalcanthite
Don’t let the innocent blue color fool you. This crystal is made out of copper and sulfur and is toxic in excess quantities. Once the copper is water soluble it can easily assimilated by plants or animals. If contaminated, a living creatures is weakend by the chalcanthite and ultimately dies.
8. The Hutchinsonite
This is the fatal combination of thallium, lead and arsenic. Thallium is very toxic and can cause anything from hair loss to death. The three toxic metals form a highly dangerous concoction that can be found in the European mountains.
7. The Galena
No, this is not a contemporary sculpture, but a rock that forms silver cubes. The Galena can be poisonous and it poses high risks for miners, workers or researches who expose themselves to it.
6. The Asbestos Chrysotile and Amphibolite
Asbetos is one of the most dangerous minerals out there and it can severely damage the human lung. It is composed of silica, iron, sodium and oxygen. If the lungs are continuously exposed to asbestos, this mineral can cause irritation of the tissue and scarring.
5. The Arsenopyrite
It might look like gold, but it’s not as harmless. This is arsenic iron sulfide. If you happen to hit it with a hammer, you’ll feel a powerful garlic smell. This is your queu to run away from the deadly rock which is highly toxic when heated or altered.
4. The Tobernite
Phosphorous, copper, water and uranium threw a party and the tobernite was born. Its toxicity matches its beauty. This rock can release radon gas which can lead to lung cancer.
3. The Stibnite
Before it was found out it’s poisonous, the stibnite was used for eating utensils This antimony sulfide looks like silver metallic crystals. It should be handled carefully and it is advised to wash one’s hands after contact.
2. The Orpiment
Arsenic is bad enough on its own, but when combined with sulfur it’s double trouble. The color can be deceiving, but don’t doubt its toxicity. Chinese used this rock as a way to poison their enemies. After rubbing crushed orpiment on stones, they would throw the rocks at the attackers and hope it would work. This rock can crumble into a powder when it comes in contact with light and gives off a strong garlic smell. Before people discovered it is poisonous, many artists used it in their paintings.
1. The Cinnabar
The most toxic mineral on Earth, the cinnbar can be found near vulcanos and sulfur deposits. When heated or altered, this mineral releases pure mercury which can cause death. Despite this, it was used in China for ornamental dishes, making many fatalities among the artists.