A selective preconcentration method was described for the determination of inorganic thallium species by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS). Thallium(III) and thallium(I) as chloro and iodo complexes were selectively retained by a column containing 0.5 g of Chromosorb 105 resin and quantitatively eluted by 10 mL of pure acetone. The calibration graph was linear with a correlation coefficient of 0.997 at levels near the detection limit and up to at least 0.8 mu g L-1. The detection limits for the determination of total thallium and thallium(III) employing the proposed method by ETAAS were estimated as three values of the standard deviations, 0.050 mu g L-1 and 0.034 mu g L-1, respectively. Verification of the accuracy was carried out by the analysis of standard reference materials (GBW 07402 soil, NIST 2710 Montana soil, GBW 07309 and GBW 07310 stream sediments). The relative errors were found to be in the range of -7.7% to +4.8%. The relative standard deviations were generally found to be below 10%. The effect of potential interfering ions on the determination was studied. The proposed method was successfully applied to the determination of total thallium in five different brand cements, soils around two cement plants and metallic zinc samples. The speciation of thallium(I) and thallium(III) was applied to synthetic solutions. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.