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What is bromine used for?

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Bromine compounds lend themselves to a wide range of applications, including the purification of water for drinking, hot tubs or swimming pools, as well as to stop the growth of algae and bacteria. Bromine compounds are also useful as pesticides, in pharmaceutical manufacture and as flame retardants in clothing and plastics.

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Bromine compounds play a major role in photography, including the manufacture of light-sensitive emulsion on film and other aspects of photo development. Bromine was once a major component of most leaded gasoline. Researchers use it to develop new batteries for electric cars and electricity storage.

Some of the most common flame resistant materials made with bromine include brominated flame retardant clothing and fire resistant plastics. In the pharmaceutical industry, bromine compounds help make up antihistamines, sedatives and analgesics. Pharmacists and other researches also test them as part of AIDS, Alzheimer's and cancer medications.

C. Löwig in Germany and A.J. Balard in France discovered bromine in 1826, each making the discovery independently of the other. The name bromine comes from the Greek word "bromos," meaning something with a bad smell, and in fact, most bromine compounds have unpleasant odors. Bromine is commonly found in saltwater, in the form of sodium bromide.

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