The New World Encyclopedia likens strontium's properties to those of calcium; in fact, strontium may replace calcium in the bones of the body. Strontium, the fifteenth most abundant element on Earth, is a soft metal that reacts strongly with water. The element occurs in several forms, or isotopes, including four stable varieties.
Strontium does not exist in a free form in nature; instead, it forms compounds with other chemicals. Adair Crawford, a scientist from Scotland, discovered the element in 1790. Strontium became the 38th element on the periodic table.
Compounds of Strontium
Strontium only occurs in combination with other elements on Earth because it reacts strongly in the presence of other chemicals. Strontium primarily occurs in mineral form as celestite and strontianite. You can obtain a source to isolate pure strontium by mining celestite. Chemical reactions between strontium oxide and aluminum produce pure strontium in the laboratory.
Industrial uses for strontium range from the manufacture of glass to production of the reddish hues in flares and fireworks. Strontium also is an essential ingredient in drugs that alleviate bone pain and treat cancer.
You can find strontium 90, a radioactive form of strontium, ubiquitously in food, in the air and in drinking water. At low levels, strontium seems to exert no ill effects on the body; however, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that higher levels of strontium taken into the body may result in weak bone and low red blood cell counts, or anemia.
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