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    Strontium in protective argon gas atmosphere

    Strontium by Matthias Zepper

    Strontium flame

    Strontium flame by Saperaud

Strontium was discovered from the ores of a lead mine, in a Scottish village called Strontian. Can you guess where it gets its name from?

It is a soft (softer than calcium!), silvery, grey metal, but it turns yellow quickly if air gets to it.

And because of its extreme reactivity to water it has to be stored in mineral oil or kerosene.

Strontium burns with a bright red colour, and is used in red signal flares, fireworks and tracer bullets.

But though it can be beautiful, strontium can also be dangerous as some isotopes of strontium are radioactive90Sr has been used as a power source for radioactive generators that power satellites. 90Sr is a dangerous in nuclear fallout, because its halflife means it will hang around for hundreds of years, and is similar to calcium so is taken up by living things.

It’s not all bad though, as 89Sr is used in radiotherapy to treat bone cancers.

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