This study was carried out to characterise the mineralogical Forms of barium and the trace heavy metal impurities in commercial barytes of different origins using electron probe microanalysis (EPMA), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Qualitative EPMA results show the presence of typically eight different minerals in commercial barytes including barite (BaSO4), barium feldspar, galena (PbS), pyrite (FeS2), sphalerite (ZnS), quartz (SiO2), and silicates, cru. Quantitative EPMA confirms that the barite crystals in the barytes contain some strontium and a little calcium, whereas trace heavy metals occur ill the associated minerals. Analysis of aqua regia extracts of barytes samples by ICP-MS has shown the presence of a large number of elements in the associated minerals. Arsenic, copper and zinc concentrations correlate closely in all 10 samples. The findings suggest that barytes is not, as traditionally thought, an inert mineral, but is a potentially toxic substance due to its associated heavy metal impurities, which can be determined by an aqua regia digest without the need for complete dissolution of the barite itself X-ray powder diffraction was not informative as the complex barite pattern masks the very weak lines from the small amounts of associated minerals.