Bromine is a chemical element with the symbol Br, an atomic number of 35, and an atomic mass of 79.904. It is in the halogen element group. [1] At ambient temperature bromine is a brownish-red liquid. It has a similarly coloured vapour with an offensive and suffocating odour. It is the only non-metallic element that is liquid under ordinary conditions, it evaporates easily at standard temperature and pressures in a red vapour that has a strong disagreeable odour resembling that of chlorine. Bromine is less active chemically than chlorine and fluorine but is more active than iodine; its compounds are similar to those of the other halogens. Bromine is soluble in organic solvents and in water. [2]

Uses [2]

Bromine is used in industry to make organobromo compounds. A major one was dibromoethane an agent for leaded gasoline, before they were largely phased out due to environmental considerations. Other organobromines are used as insecticides, in fire extinguishers and to make pharmaceuticals. Bromine is used in making fumigants, dyes, flameproofing agents, water purification compounds, sanitises, medicinals, agents for photography and in brominates vegetable oil, used as emulsifier in many citrus-flavoured soft drinks.

Routes of Exposure

  • Following the release of bromine into water, you could be exposed by drinking the contaminated water.
  • If food becomes contaminated with bromine, you could be exposed by eating the contaminated food.
  • Following release of bromine gas into the air, you could be exposed by breathing the fumes.
  • Skin exposure to bromine could occur through direct contact with bromine liquid or gas.
  • Bromine gas is heavier than air, so it would settle in low-lying areas.

Health Effects

Bromine is corrosive to human tissue in a liquid state and its vapours irritate eyes and throat. Bromine vapours are very toxic with inhalation. [2]

Acute Effects [3]

  • Breathing bromine gas could cause you to cough, have trouble breathing, get a headache, have irritation of your mucous membranes (inside your mouth, nose, etc.), be dizzy, or have watery eyes.
  • Getting bromine liquid or gas on your skin could cause skin irritation and burns. Liquid bromine that touches your skin may first cause a cooling sensation that is closely followed by a burning feeling.
  • Swallowing bromine-containing compounds (combinations of bromine with other chemicals) would cause different effects depending on the compound. Swallowing a large amount of bromine in a short period of time would be likely to cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting (gastrointestinal symptoms).
  • Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to bromine.

Chronic Effects [4]

Bromine is toxic to mucous membranes. The substance may be toxic to kidneys, liver, cardiovascular system, central nervous system (CNS) and thyroid. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated or prolonged contact with spray mist may produce chronic eye irritation and severe skin irritation. Repeated or prolonged exposure to spray mist may produce respiratory tract irritation leading to frequent attacks of bronchial infection. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many

human organs.


First Aid Measures [4]

  • Eye Contact: Check for and remove any contact lenses. In case of contact, immediately flush eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. WARM water MUST be used. Get medical attention immediately.
  • Skin Contact: In case of contact, immediately flush skin with plenty of water. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes. Wash clothing before reuse. Thoroughly clean shoes before reuse. Get medical attention.
  • Serious Skin Contact: Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Inhalation: If inhaled, remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention immediately.
  • Serious Inhalation: Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. WARNING: It may be hazardous to the person providing aid to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when the inhaled material is toxic, infectious or corrosive. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Ingestion: Do NOT induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. Get medical attention if symptoms appear.

Exposure Controls/Personal Protection [4]

  • Engineering Controls: Provide exhaust ventilation or other engineering controls to keep the airborne concentrations of vapours below their respective threshold limit value. Ensure that eyewash stations and safety showers are proximal to the work-station location.
  • Personal Protection: Face shield, full suit, vapour respirator (be sure to use an approved/certified respirator or equivalent), gloves and boots.
  • Personal Protection in Case of a Large Spill: Splash goggles, full suit, vapour respirator, boots and gloves. A self contained breathing apparatus should be used to avoid inhalation of the product. Suggested protective clothing might not be sufficient; consult a specialist BEFORE handling this product.


United States [5]

OSHA: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has set the following Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) for bromine:

  • General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Z-1 Table — 0.1 ppm, 0.7 mg/m3 TWA
  • Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards — 0.1 ppm, 0.7 mg/m3 TWA

ACGIH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists has set a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for bromine of 0.1 ppm, 0.66 mg/m3 TWA; 0.2 ppm, 1.3 mg/m3 STEL

NIOSH: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has set a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for bromine of 0.1 ppm TWA; 0.3 ppm STEL

Australia [6]

Safe Work Australia: Safe Work Australia has set an 8-hour time weighted average concentration for bromine of 0.1ppm or 0.66mg/m3. In addition, the following 15-minute short-term exposure limit (STEL) has been set 0.3ppm or 2mg/m3.