Bromine ( /ËˆbroÊŠmiËn/ broh-meen or /ËˆbroÊŠmÉ¨n/ broh-min; from Greek: Î²Ïá¿¶Î¼Î¿Ï‚, brÃ³mos, meaning “stench (of he-goats)”) is a chemical element with the symbol Br, an atomic number of 35, and an atomic mass of 79.904. It is in the halogen element group. The element was isolated independently by two chemists, Carl Jacob LÃ¶wig and Antoine Jerome Balard, in 1825â€“1826. Elemental bromine is a fuming red-brown liquid at room temperature, corrosive and toxic, with properties between those of chlorine and iodine. Free bromine does not occur in nature, but occurs as colorless soluble crystalline mineral halide salts, analogous to table salt.
Bromine is rarer than about three-quarters of elements in the Earth’s crust, however the high solubility of bromide ion has caused its accumulation in the oceans, and commercially the element is easily extracted from brine pools, mostly in the United States, Israel and China. About 556,000 tonnes were produced in 2007, an amount similar to the far more abundant element magnesium.
At high temperatures, organobromine compounds are easily converted to free bromine atoms, a process which acts to terminate free radical chemical chain reactions. This makes such compounds useful fire retardants and this is bromine’s primary industrial use, consuming more than half of world production of the element. The same property allows volatile organobromine compounds, under the action of sunlight, to form free bromine atoms in the atmosphere which are highly effective in ozone depletion. This unwanted side-effect has caused many common volatile brominated organics like methyl bromide, a pesticide that was formerly a large industrial bromine consumer, to be abandoned. Remaining uses of bromine compounds are in well-drilling fluids, as an intermediate in manufacture of organic chemicals, and in film photography.
Bromine has no essential function in mammals, though it is preferentially used over chloride by one antiparasitic enzyme in the human immune system. Organobromides are needed and produced enzymatically from bromide by some lower life forms in the sea, particularly algae, and the ash of seaweed was one source of bromine’s discovery. As a pharmaceutical, simple bromide ion, Brâ€“, has inhibitory effects on the central nervous system, and bromide salts were once a major medical sedative, before being replaced by shorter-acting drugs. They retain niche uses as antiepileptics.