Bromine: An Element Not to be Underestimated Garrett Hah, Bryan Science 8

Antoine Ballard (

The discovery of bromine was announced to the world in 1826 by Antoine-Jérôme Balard. Balard had been investigating saltwater from Montpellier, France, and he had produced a concentrated liquid after evaporating most of the water. Balard passed chlorine gas through this liquid and found he had isolated an orange-red liquid. This was the element bromine, and Balard published his findings in the Journal of the French Academy. Unfortunately for him, a German student at Heidelberg University, by the name of Carl Löwig, had actually isolated bromine a year earlier, but he was busy trying to produce more of the element at the time when Balard published his findings. (

Bromine Vapour (

Bromine takes its name from the ancient Greek word “bromos,” which means “stench.” Bromine in its natural form has a foul odor and its vapor can cause harm to the eyes and throat. (

  • Atomic Number : 35
  • Abbreviation: Br
  • Atomic Mass : 79.904 amu
  • Number of Protons : 35
  • Number of Neutrons : 45
  • Number of Electrons : 35
  • Stable Isotopes : Br-79 and Br-81
  • Classification : Halogen
  • (
Map of Bromine Collection Locations (

Bromine occurs naturally in the form of bromide salts, which can be found as a diffuse crystal rock. It also occurs in sea water, which is the main source of the bromine used in a variety of industrial uses. Typically, seawater contains 85 ppm of bromine. The total world production of bromine is in excess of 300,000 tonnes, mostly produced by the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. The largest amount of bromine in a single water source is the Dead Sea. (

Left to right: furniture foam, pesticide, camera film (,,

Bromine has many uses due to its toxicity bromine is used as an insecticide and other agricultural chemicals. Bromine can also be used as flame retardants. Bromine compounds are added to furniture foam, plastic casings for phones and other electronics, and textiles to reduce their flammability. Over time, however, bromine as a flame retardant has been phased out by the US government due to its toxicity. Another use for bromine agents is developing photography films which allow the photographs to develop sufficient light levels. (,


Bromine is the only liquid nonmetal on the periodic table and only one of two elements found to be liquid at room temperature other than mercury. (

World War I Prisoners (

One of the earliest uses for bromine was in medicine. Bromine salts and potassium bromide were used as natural sedatives during the 19th century. However, they had a unusual side-effect that diminished sex drive. This agrees with the urban myth that during World War I bromide was added to the drinks of prisoners in order to reduce their sexual drive. (

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