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What is Iodine ?

Iodine is a chemical element commonly found in seawater. It is a nonmetallic element classified as halogens, along with bromine and chlorine. The difference of iodine with other halogens is that it reacts quite readily with various substances. Iodine is identified with the symbol I and atomic number 53. It is used in a wide variety of applications, but it is an important element in medicine and a vital part of human nutrition. However, when consumed in large amounts, iodine is highly toxic.

The pure form of iodine is black or purple in color, but vaporizes into a toxic, bluish purple gas. Pure iodine can be poisonous and extremely corrosive. As such, proper handling is important and wearing of face protection and gloves is required. The purest form of iodine should not be ingested because it could cause severe irritation and other serious health problems.

In the medical field, iodine is used as an antiseptic or germicide and in producing purple dye. The radioactive isotopes found in iodine are used in medical diagnosis and as thyroid cancer treatment. Radioactive iodine can also help in determining how well the thyroid is functioning.

The human body requires around 150 micrograms of iodine every day. Dietary iodine can be found in sea vegetables, fishes and other seafood. To ensure that people obtain the required dietary iodine intake, food manufacturers added iodine to salt and sold them as “iodized salt”.

The man responsible for iodine discovery in 1811 is Bernard Courtois, who was involved in extracting sodium carbonate to seawater. Although he accidentally produced the purple vapor that crystallized into iodine by not measuring his chemicals properly, he is considered one of the first people to discover this element.

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