Science, Tech, Math › Science Toxic Elements With No Nutritional Value Do You Know Which Elements Are Toxic? Share Flipboard Email Print Aluminum is one of the most common elements in the Earth's crust, yet serves no biological function in humans. MirageC / Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated June 06, 2018 Have you ever wondered which elements are toxic? Everything is toxic if the dose is high enough, so I've compiled a short list of elements that have no nutritional value, even in trace amounts. Some of these elements accumulate in the body, so there is no truly safe exposure limit for those elements (e.g., lead, mercury). Barium and aluminum are examples of elements which can be excreted, at least to a certain extent. Most of these elements are metals. The man-made elements are radioactive and toxic whether they are metals or not. AluminumAntimonyArsenic (metalloid)BariumBerylliumCadmiumHexavalent Chromium Cr6+ (Cr3+ is necessary in trace amounts for proper nutrition)LeadMercuryOsmiumThalliumVanadiumRadioactive MetalsPolonium (metalloid)ThoriumRadiumUraniumTransuranium elements (e.g., polonium, americium)Radioactive isotopes of metals that might not otherwise be highly toxic (e.g., cobalt-60, strontium-90) Surprises on the List One of the biggest surprises on the list is that aluminum serves no known biological function in humans. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth's crust and the most abundant metal. Another surprise is that you can't use flavor to identify toxic elements. Some poisonous metals taste sweet. Classic examples include beryllium and lead. Lead acetate or "sugar of lead" was actually used as a sweetener until fairly recently.