Barium - Ba
Barium is a silvery-white metal that can be found in the environment, where it exists naturally. It occurs combined with other chemicals, such as sulfur, carbon or oxygen. Ii is very light and its density is half that of iron. Barium oxidizes in air, reacts vigoroulsy with water to form the hydroxide, liberating hydrogen. Barium reacts with almost all the non-metals, forming often poisouning compounds.
Barium is often used in barium-nickel alloys for spark-plug electrodes an in vacuum tubes as drying and oxygen-removing agent. It is also used in fluorescent lamps: impure barium sulfide phosphoresces after exposure to the light.
Barium in the environment
Barium is surprisingly abundant in the Earth's crust, being the 14th most abundant element. High amounts of barium may only be found in soils and in food, such as nuts, seaweed, fish and certain plants.
The chief mined ores are barite, which is also the most common and witserite. The main mining areas are UK, Italy, Czech Republic, USA and Germany. Each year about 6 million tonnes are produced and reserves are expected to exceed 400 million tonnes.
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