Health effects of tin
Tin is found in many organic substances. These organic tin compounds are the most dangerous to humans. Despite their dangerousness, they are used in many industries, such as in the paint or plastic industry, but also in agriculture in pesticides. The number of uses is constantly increasing - despite the fact that we know the consequences of tin poisoning.
The effects of organic tin are different. They depend on the type of substance, but also on the reaction of the respective organism. Triethyl tin is the most dangerous type of organic tin compound. It has relatively short hydrogen chains. In general, the longer the hydrogen chains, the less dangerous a substance is. Humans can ingest the tin compounds through food, breathing and skin contact.
Ingestion of tin can have both acute and long-term effects. As follows:
- irritation to eyes and skin
- A headache
- Stomach pain
- nausea and dizziness
- Heavy sweating
- Problems urinating
- liver damage
- Malfunction of the immune system
- Damage to the chromosomes
- lack of red blood cells
- brain damage (causes of anger, insomnia, forgetfulness and headaches)
Environmental effects of tin
Tin as a single atom or molecule is not very dangerous to organisms; the poisonous form is organic tin. Organic tin compounds can linger in nature for a long time. They are very persistent and difficult to biodegrade. Microorganisms can hardly break down the organic tin compounds that have accumulated in water over many years. For this reason, the concentrations are constantly increasing.
Organic tin can spread widely in aquatic ecosystems when adsorbed by mud particles. These compounds represent a great burden for water bodies as they are toxic to fungi, algae and phytoplankton. However, phytoplankton in particular is an important link in aquatic ecosystems, as it supplies the other aquatic life with oxygen. It also plays an important role in the food chain.
There are different types of organic tin, which differ greatly in their toxicity. Tributyltin is particularly toxic to fish and mushrooms, whereas triphenyltin is the greatest danger to phytoplankton.
Organic tin affects the growth, reproduction, enzyme systems and nutritional patterns of aquatic life. The pollution is greatest in the uppermost water layer, since the tin compounds accumulate here.
Tin and water
Back to the periodic table of the elements.