Strontium belongs to the alkaline earth metal group of the periodic table. It is a highly reactive element and reacts strongly with both water and air.
This element is named after the village of Strontian in Scotland, near to where it was first discovered. Previously, Strontium was used in the production of sugar from sugar beet via the ‘strontian process’, however, cheaper methods are now more commonly used. Strontium was also used in the manufacture of older colour televisions, where it was added to the glass to prevent the emission of X-rays from the cathode-ray tubes that were used to produce the images.
A more modern use of strontium is in the manufacture of glow in the dark toys. When small amounts of another element, such as Europium, are added to Strontium Aluminate (SrAl2O4) the material becomes phosphorescent – meaning the compound can give off light after it has absorbed radiation. This glowing effect can last up to 14 hours!
Strontium is also used in medicine, due to its similar size to Calcium. A radioactive isotope of Strontium (89Sr) is used to treat bone cancer because of its short half-life (~ 50 days).
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