It’s should be hard not to realize you’ve discovered an element when that element is defined by its stench — but two famous scientists did just that. Learn how bromine masqueraded as something else to throw people off the (ha! ha ha!) scent.
Touch this chemical to aluminum foil, and it bursts into flame. That makes for a pretty fire (although it's a pretty dangerous one), but the chemical is a fire retardant. Find out why bromine goes pyro the minute it touches aluminum foil.
Here's something most of us would rather not consider: Would you rather use a flammable mattress in your child's crib, or use a flame-retardant one—which, in the process of stifling flames, can release enough toxic fumes to risk the lives of everyone else in the house?
Mountain Dew. The oh so sweet is it yellow? is it green? nectar of the geek gods and fuel for gamers has flame retardant in it. Yup. Mountain Dew, along with 10 percent of sodas in the US, contains brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a flame retardant chemical banned in Europe and Japan.
Transporting toxic gas in glass containers aboard a train sounds like something from a hurriedly-written action movie, but no, it's real life. And it's particularly real life for Chelyabinsk, Russia, which now have a cloud of bromine floating above it.