Definition of Bromine

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Bromine: A brownish-red element that is a liquid at room temperature, dissolves in water, and has a bleach-like suffocating odor. Bromine occurs naturally in the earth's crust and seawater. Bromine is found as an alternative to chlorine in swimming pools. Products containing bromine are used in agriculture and sanitation and as fire retardants. Some bromine-containing compounds were also once used as sedatives.

Most toxic exposures to bromine occur by inhalation. Breathing bromine gas can cause coughing, trouble breathing, headache, irritation of the mucous membranes inside your mouth and nose, dizziness, and watery eyes. Getting bromine liquid or gas on the skin can cause skin irritation and burns. Liquid bromine that touches the skin may first cause a cooling sensation that is closely followed by a burning feeling. Swallowing a large amount of bromine in a short period of time may cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (inflammation and bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract).

Survivors of poisoning caused by inhaling bromine may have long-term lung problems. People who survive serious bromine poisoning may also have long-term effects from damage done by what is called systemic poisoning, for example, kidney or brain damage from low blood pressure. See also: Bromism; Bromoderma.


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