Bromine

What is Bromine?

Bromine is a chemical element (with the symbol Br and atomic number 35), that belongs to the halogen element group. At room temperature, it is a brownish-red liquid with an offensive and suffocating odour resembling chlorine. 

It is the only non-metallic element that is liquid under normal conditions, evaporating easily at standard temperatures in a red vapour. 

It is soluble in water and organic solvents.

What is Bromine used for?

Bromine is used to produce organobromine compounds (organic compounds containing carbon bonded to bromine). A major one was dibromoethane, an agent used in leaded gasoline before being phased out due to its environmental impact. Other organobromines are used in the production of insecticides, fire extinguishers and pharmaceuticals. 

Bromine is used in manufacturing fumigants, dyes, flameproofing agents, water purification compounds, sanitisers, medicines, photography chemicals, brominated vegetable oil as well as as an emulsifier in many citrus flavoured soft drinks.

Bromine is a key ingredient in insecticides due to its toxicity
Bromine is a key ingredient in insecticides due to its toxicity to insects

Bromine Hazards

The routes of bromine exposure include; ingestion, inhalation and skin contact.

Swallowing a large amount of bromine in a short period of time is likely to cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and nausea.

Inhaling bromine gas can cause; a cough, difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, watery eyes and irritation to your mouth and nose.

Skin contact with bromine can cause irritation and burns. When the chemical comes into contact with your skin, it may have a cooling sensation at first, closely followed by a burning feeling. 

Chronic exposure to bromine may be toxic to the kidneys, liver cardiovascular system, central nervous system and thyroid. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation on one or many of the organs.

Bromine Safety

CPR should be performed when a person shows no signs of life
CPR should be performed when a person shows no signs of life

If bromine is swallowed, contact a medical professional immediately. You should not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by a medical professional. Monitor for symptoms and seek medical attention if they appear. 

In the event of inhalation, remove them from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If not breathing, perform CPR (if qualified).

In the event of exposure to skin; remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and cleanse the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Contaminated clothing must be washed prior to wearing again. Contact a doctor if symptoms persist.

If eye exposure occurs, remove any contact lenses and flush the eye with plenty of warm water for at least 15 minutes. Contact a medical professional immediately. 

Bromine Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation.

PPE including; safety glasses, protective clothing, gloves, boots and masks are always essential when dealing with ammonium chloride.