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Bromide: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A bromide ion is a bromine atom with charge of −1.

Compounds with bromine in formal oxidation state −1 are called bromides, and each individual chemical in this class can be called a bromide, as well. The class name can include ionic compounds such as caesium bromide or covalent compounds such as sulfur dibromide.


Natural occurrence

Bromide is present in typical seawater (35 PSU) with a concentration of around 65 mg/l, which is around 0.2% of all dissolved salts. Seafoods generally have high levels of bromide, while foods derived from land have variable amounts.


One can test for a bromide ion by adding dilute nitric acid (HNO3), then silver nitrate (AgNO3). A cream precipitate forms.

Medical uses

Bromide compounds, especially potassium bromide, were frequently used as sedatives in the 19th and early 20th century. This gave the word "bromide" its colloquial connotation of a boring cliché, a bit of conventional wisdom overused as a sedative.

The bromide ion is antiepileptic, and bromide salts are still used as such, particularly in veterinary medicine. The renal half-life of bromide in humans (12 days) is long compared with many pharamaceuticals, making dosing difficult to adjust (a new dose may require several months to reach equilibrium). Bromide ion concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid are about 30% of those in blood, and are strongly influenced by the body's chloride intake and metabolism..[1]

Chronic toxicity from bromide can result in bromism, a syndrome with multiple neurological symptoms. Bromide toxicity can also cause a type of skin eruption. See potassium bromide.

Lithium bromide was used as a sedative beginning in the early 1900s, but it fell into disfavor in the 1940s when some heart patients died after using it as a salt substitute.[2] Like lithium carbonate and lithium chloride it was used as treatment for bipolar disorder.

In biology

Bromide is needed by eosinophils (white blood cells of the granulocyte class, specialised for dealing with multi-cellular parasites), which use it to generate antiparasitic brominating compounds by the action of eosinophil peroxidase, a haloperoxidase enzyme which is able to use chloride, but preferentially uses bromide when available.[3] Despite this use by the body, bromide is not known to be strictly necessary for life, as its functions may generally be replaced (though in some cases not as well) by chloride.

Bromide salts are also sometimes used in hot tubs and spas as mild germicidal agents, using the action of an added oxidizing agent to generate in situ hypobromite, in a similar fashion to the peroxidase in eosinophils.

The average concentration of bromide in human blood is 5.3±1.4 mg/L and varies with age and gender.[4] Much higher levels may indicate exposure to brominated chemicals (e.g. methyl bromide). However, bromide occurs in relatively high concentration in seawater and many types of seafood, and bromide concentrations in the blood are heavily influenced by seafood contributions to the diet.


In some countries, bromide salts remain available in a liquid form at pharmacies[citation needed], although since the 1950s they have been removed as over-the-counter sedatives in most countries in the West.

It was rumoured in particular by British troops during World War II that bromide was regularly added to their tea to reduce incidence of erections for males (see anaphrodisiac). Historically this actually had been bromide's initial pharmacological use a century before (see the history in potassium bromide). However, such an action is common to all effective sedatives[citation needed] and not known to be especially particular to bromide. In addition, stories of anaphrodesiacs being used for troops also were told about a number of other chemical compounds, such as nitrates, and there has not been good evidence produced for any of them.


  1. ^ Goodman and Gilman, The Biological Basis of Therapeutics, Fourth Edition, Chapter 10 (Hypnotics and Sedatives), p. 121, The MacMillan Co., London, 1970.
  2. ^ Bipolar disorder
  3. ^ [1] Eosinophils preferentially use bromide to generate halogenating agents - Mayeno et al. 264 (10): 5660 - Journal of Biological Chemistry
  4. ^ Olszowy, H.A., Rossiter, J., Hegarty, J., Geoghegan, P.; Background levels of bromide in human blood. J. Anal. Toxicol., 22,1998, 225–230

Simple English

Bromide is the reduced form of bromine. It is an ion. It exists when another element, such as sodium, gives away electrons to bromine, turning it into bromide. The aluminium turns into an aluminum ion, and both ions bond to form sodium bromide, a chemical compound. Bromides are normally colorless and nontoxic.

Bromide can also refer to an overused saying or idiom, such as "quick as a mouse" and "big as an elephant". In writing it is recommended to use fresh expressions and not over used ones.

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