Bromine: Properties and Uses

Bromine is a naturally occurred chemical element that belongs to halogen group. At the room temperature, it is oily liquid with a pungent odor. The substance evaporates easily at standard temperature and pressure, and forms a reddish gas. The liquid bromine colour is red-brown.

General Properties

The properties of bromine are typical to most halogens. Its element symbol is Br, atomic number: 35. The melting point of the chemical is −7,2 °C, the boiling point: 58.8 °C. This halogen is denser than water and soluble in it, besides, it is soluble in organic solvents. It is the only nonmetal, existing in liquid form at room temperature. The element is very rare in the Earth's crust because of his high reactivity; however, the high solubility led to its accumulation of in the oceans.

Discovery History

Bromine was independently discovered by two scientists: Antoine-Jérôme Balard from Montpellier, France and German chemist Carl Löwig. Löwig was the first one to isolate the substance. Still, Balard published the results first and became known as its discoverer. The name itself is derived from the Greek “bromos”, that means “stench”. It was given to the chemical due to its sharp and disagreeable odor, resembling that of chlorine.


Bromine has a broad variety of applications and uses, though most of them have been phased out because of the environmental concerns. For example, it can be used as flame retardant, and may be either chemically bonded, or physically incorporated into textile, plastics, etc. to reduce inflammability risk. Bromides are also used in halon fire extinguishers.

The chemical plays an important role in the manufacture of water treating preparations and in making fumigants against pests. However, the latter is decreasing in importance due to the international agreements.

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Environmental and Health Effects

Organic bromines have proven damaging effects on microorganisms. Due to these effects, they are often used as disinfecting and protecting agents. Besides, this halogen is extremely toxic to the aquatic life and mammals. It causes nerve and DNA damage, enhancing the chances of cancer development.

The substance has negative effect on human health too. When in liquid state, it may cause serious burns to human tissue. The vapors are corrosive to eyes and respiratory tracts and may be fatal if inhaled. Survivors usually experience long-term lung problems.

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