# What elements (in the pure form) would harm a human, if eaten? [closed]

What pure elements, if we eat it in a relatively small dose (around a piece of sugar), can be harmful/lethal for an average human? Is, for example, eating pure carbon bad for the organism?

• – user7951
Dec 5 '16 at 20:44
• I think you need to be more specific with the question. Lots of things will kill you or could cause harm. Eating a diamond heated to 3000 K is probably bad. If you eat a large mass of carbon-14, that's probably also bad.
– Zhe
Dec 5 '16 at 21:07

Is, for example, eating pure carbon bad for the organism?

No, quite the contrary.

Activated charcoal (in the form of powder or tablets) was/is traditionally used to treat diarrea. It is listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines on page 4.

Another fun data point: polonium-210 has $\mathrm{LD}_{50}$ of approximately $50\ \mathrm{ng}$ by ingestion or $10\ \mathrm{ng}$ by inhalation. Link

Obviously, the answer is yes for some elements.

I hear its all about the dose, even water can kill you if you drink too much. And cyanide wont kill you if its a small dose, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWNpO5vvhpk

• OP is asking about small dose Dec 5 '16 at 21:33

Here are some more elements that probably would cause no harm if you ate a sugar-lump sized piece: B, Mg, Al, Si, S, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Pd, Ag, Sn, Pt, Au, Bi. Probably there are many more. Don't know about the rare earth elements. Also, all the noble gas elements, plus hydrogen, are nontoxic.

• Sugar-lump sized pieces of most metals would probably break your teeth or get stuck in your throat. Other than that, those you listed are harmless indeed. Dec 6 '16 at 5:58
• Copper isn't entirely benign; there is some literature on human toxicity (and, of course, it kills plants: copper sulfate is sometimes used to keep roots out of sewer pipe). Trace amounts are beneficial, though. Dec 9 '16 at 4:26
• Mg may give you gas (reacts readily with gastric HCl) and too much may displace calcium in bones and teeth. Sep 14 '20 at 19:19

5 grams elemental at STP assuming no physical trauma:

Immediate serious harm: P and group 1 metals and Calcium.

• It would be good to mention that you mean white phosphorus. Other forms are relatively harmless. Dec 6 '16 at 5:56
• Regarding different allotropes, He would be harmless, but I would avoid eating 3 grams of $\ce{He2}$. Dec 7 '16 at 13:55
• Unstable particles are usually not counted as allotropes. Dec 7 '16 at 14:01