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Tin and its Impact on the Health

Tin is a smooth, malleable, silvery-white metal that does not easily oxidize and withstands corrosion as it is shielded by a layer of oxide. Tin resists corrosion from soft tap and distilled sea water, but is vulnerable to strong acids, acid salts, and alkalis.


Tin has the following applications:

  • Tin is extensively used as a coating material.

  • Tin-plated steel crates are commonly used to preserve food.

  • Tin alloys are used in several ways such as solder for joining electric circuits or pipes, bell metal, dental amalgams, babbit metal, and pewter.

  • The niobium-tin alloy is used to make superconducting magnets.

  • Tin oxide is used in gas sensors and in making ceramics.

  • Tin foil was used as a wrapping material for food and drugs, now aluminium foil is used as it is cheaper.

Tin in the Environment

Tin oxide is insoluble, and the ore powerfully withstands eroding, so the volume of tin in natural waters and soil is low. The concentration of tin in soil is usually in the 1-4 ppm range but there are soil having less than 0.1 ppm while peat can have as much as 300 ppm.

There are many tin-comprising minerals, but only one, which is cassiterite is of any industrial importance. China, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia are the primary mining regions of tin in Asia. Malaysia generates 40% of the global tin production. Other major tin mining region are in South America, mainly in the nations of Bolivia and Brazil. Worldwide annual production of tin is over 140 tonnes and workable stockpiles amount to over 4 million tonnes. 130 tonnes of tin concentrates are produced annually.

Uses of Tin

The most significant use of tin, traditionally, has been to produce bronze — an alloy of tin, copper and other metals that transformed civilization by guiding in the Bronze Age. People started trading for bronze weapons and tools at different occasions, depending on topography, but the Bronze Age is commonly believed to have begun around 3300 BC.

Some Key Facts About Tin

Here are some of the key properties of tin:

  • Atomic weight: 118.710

  • Atomic symbol: Sn

  • Atomic number: 50

  • Phase at room temperature: Solid

  • Density: 7.287 grams per cubic centimeter

  • Melting point: 231.93°C

  • Number of isotopes (atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons): 51, 8 stable

  • Boiling point: 2602° C

Health Effects of Tin

Tin is primarily used in several organic materials. The organic tin bonds are quite dangerous for humans. Despite the risks, they are applied in many industries on a large scale, especially in the paint and plastic industry, and in the agriculture sector in the form of pesticides. The number of applications of organic tin is increasing, despite knowing well the consequences of tin poisoning.

The impact of organic tin substances can alter. They depend on the type of substance present and the persons exposed to it. Triethyl tin is the most hazardous organic tin for humans. It has comparatively short hydrogen bonds. When hydrogen bonds become longer, the tin becomes less risky to human health. Humans can soak up tin bonds through food, air and through the skin. The intake of tin bonds can trigger acute consequences and long-term effects.

Here are some of the acute consequences and long-term effects of tin on humans:

Acute effects include:

  • Urination problems

  • Breathlessness

  • Severe sweating

  • Sickness and dizziness

  • Stomachaches

  • Headaches

  • Eye and skin irritations

Major long-term effects are as follows:

  • Brain damage (causing sleeping disorder, forgetfulness, anger, and headaches)

  • Red blood cell shortage

  • Chromosomal destruction

  • Faulty immune systems

  • Liver damage

  • Depression

There are several different types of organic tin that can vary greatly in noxiousness. Tributyl tin is the most poisonous tin components to aquatic animals and fungi, whereas trifenyl tin is much more toxic to phytoplankton.

Organic tins disrupt growth, enzymatic systems, reproduction and feeding patterns of aquatic creatures. The exposure often happens in the top layer of the water, as that is where organic tin compounds collect.

Beyond bronze, tin's biggest contribution to humanity was probably the unassuming tin can. The can had its roots in the perpetual dilemma of how to sustain an on-the-move army. However, today the scope of tin is much beyond its ability to be used a key component of an alloy or to store food and is used across industries for different purposes.

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The metal tin with a silver tinge has the symbol Sn, which is a short form of the Latin word Stannum. Tin has the atomic number 50 with a melting point of 232°C. Tin is not among the most abundant ele